Cycas clivicola K.D. Hill
by Ms. Fatin Qurratul 'ain Binti Saberam
Cycas clivicola K.D. Hill
by Ms. Fatin Qurratul 'ain Binti Saberam

Cycadaceae (Cycads) family is a dioecious (male and female reproductive structures on different plants), palm-like tree that can grow up to 12 m tall. The family is represented by a single genus known as Cycas. Currently, there are 120 accepted species (The World List of Cycads, 2021) with 4 of them recorded in Peninsular Malaysia i.e, Cycas cantafolia (locally known as Paku lagu and Paku Mas in Temuan tribe), Cycas clivicola, Cycas edentata (Paku Laut in Malay) and Cycas macrocarpa (Bogak in Malay) (Jutta, 2012).

The epithet for the species clivicola is derived from the Latin words 'clivis' meaning a cliff and 'cola' meaning a dweller as this plant usually grows on cliffs. In 1999, K.D. Hill described Cycas clivicola to two subspecies namely C.clivicola subsp. clivicola and subsp. lutea.

C. clivicola subsp. clivicola is known as Paku Aji in Malay. This subspecies is distributed in Southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia especially in Kedah, Perlis and Perak. It is restricted to inland and offshore limestone, usually on cliffs, where it directly grows on a rock or wedged into crevices and cracks (Jutta, 2012; Yong et al., 2021).

This tree can grow up to 7 m in height with a prostrate-pendulous to pendulous stem with 60 cm in diameter at the base where it is conspicuously enlarged and bulbous. The bark is light grey with a honeycomb-like pattern, smooth and becomes deeply fissured as it ages. It can produce up to 50 or more leaves per tree. The young leaves are covered with woolly, pale yellow hairs that are shed eventually as the leaves uncurl. Each leaf has about 20-60 cm long petiole, 40-140 cm long rachis and 30-100 pairs of linear-shaped pinnae. The pinnae are stiffly coriaceous (resembling the texture of leather), shiny to glaucous green above (especially in younger leaves) and paler beneath. The pinnae also have flat margins with notable midribs above and below (Jutta, 2012).

The cycads family is known to produce the largest sperm and ovules in the plant kingdom. Male plants produce male cones while the females produce female cones consisting of leafy-like structures called megasporophylls. The megasporophylls are not organised into true cones; instead they are arranged spirally in a loose or dense grouping around the stem apex.

A male cone of C. clivicola subsp. clivicola is pale yellow, ellipsoid (measuring about 68 cm long with 17.5 cm in diameter) and shortly stalked. The male cone consists of many spathulate, pale yellow microsporophylls containing closely arranged pollen sacs (microsporangia) that cover about three-quarters of the surface. Meanwhile, the female cone forms a closed-type cone where the individual megasporophylls remain erect and form a tight overlapping structure similar to a cabbage-like head. The cone is covered with soft, yellow-brown silky hair throughout and each megasporophyll carries 1-4 ovules (Jutta, 2012).

Cycads are generally traded as ornamental plants, resulting in decreasing wild populations of some species, i.e. Cycas edentata and Cycas clivicola subsp. clivicola. In the Malaysia Red List, C. clivicola subsp. clivicola is considered as Endangered (Yong et al., 2021) due to overharvesting for commercial trading as an ornamental plant (Jutta, 2012). However, the species is globally listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Hill, 2010).

QR Code
Scan QR code for mobile experience

Other articles

Pangium edule Reinw. (Achariaceae)

Mrs. Norzielawati Salleh   •   29 Sep 2023   •   48 views

Libellago aurantiaca (Selys, 1859)

Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas & Assoc. Prof. Dr. Choong Chee Yen   •   15 Sep 2023   •   246 views

Vallaris glabra (L) Kuntze (Apocynaceae)

Mrs. Sarah Nabila Binti Rosli & Aida Hidayah   •   31 Aug 2023   •   435 views

Agropsar sturninus (Pallas, 1776)

Ms. Anis Zafirah Binti Zam Beri & Mr. Mohammad Shahfiz Azman   •   31 Jul 2023   •   157 views

Dracontomelon dao (Blanco) Merr. & Rolfe

Mr. Nik Faizu Bin Nik Hassan & Mrs. Rafidah Abdul Rahman   •   30 Jun 2023   •   165 views
Get updates and an exclusive news when you sign up to our free newsletter.
Malaysia Biodiversity Information System (MyBIS)   by   Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC)

Copyright © 2023, Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC), Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC). All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER - The Malaysian Government, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC), Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC) and Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused by the usage of any information obtained from this website. By entering this site, you acknowledge and agree that no portion of this site, including but not limited to names, logos, trademarks, patents, sound, graphics, charts, text, audio, video, information or images are either MyBIS property or the property permitted by third-party and shall not be used without prior written approval from the owner(s).
Best viewed using latest Mozila Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 with Resolution 1024 x 768px or above. Version 2.0 / 2016
Website Citation: MyBIS (2023). Malaysia Biodiversity Information System. Published on the Internet, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, Malaysia Biodiversity Centre & Forest Research Institute Malaysia. [Retrieved 03 October 2023].