Cycas sp Wilailak

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Figure 1. C. sp. 'Wilailak'


Distribution & Habitat:

Only found on one lime-stone mountain near the border of Laos, where the night-time temperatures in the winter get down to -4 Celcius, and the plants can be covered with snow and ice.


A tall cycad to between 8-10m high, with the stem being almost white, and sometimes getting 2 or 3 heads per plant.

Leaves are 112 cm. long; petiole 28 cm; spines 5-6 in pairs. Leaflets: 67 in pairs; length 20 cm., width 12 mm. Seeds 3.7-5.1 cm. long and 3.9-4.6 cm. width.


A very newly discovered species, so not much is known about it at the moment.


This sounds like a very cold tolerant cycad, which would like limestone based soils.


The C. sp. 'Wilailak' has the characteristic of losing the old leaf attachment very soon after senescense leaving a clean caudex which has a flaking cork like outer surface. Last year after the commencement of the wet season two of the three specimens developed a dramatic longitudinal split through the caudex extending from below the soil level up to almost the apex of the growth centre; the split went as far as the centre of the plant. There were no complications from this rather severe means of caudex expansion, the surface of the injury quickly calloused and the surface took on the general appearance of the rest of the caudex surface, after 12 months all that is apparent is a shallow depression on the caudex. This species does suffer some sun scold to the foliage on severe days. The plants are located in the tropics at sea level in the Cairns region.


Sunny, moist, but well drained position.

Figure 1. C. sp. 'Wilailak'
Figure 2. C. sp. 'Wilailak' leaf detail.
Figure 3. C. sp. 'Wilailak' caudex detail.
from longitudinal split 12 months previous.
Figure 2. C. sp. 'Wilailak' in habitat.
Figure 3. C. sp. 'Wilailak' leaf detail.
Figure 4. C. sp. 'Wilailak' showing the tall, white stems.

Contributed by:

Ruud Meeldijk,
Golden Lotus
(Text and Figure 1,2,3&4)

External Links:

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