Bowenia serrulata

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Figure 1. B. serrulata in habitat, Byfield State Forest.


Common Names:

Byfield Fern

Distribition & Habitat:

Endemic to dry sclerophyll eucalypt forest in central eastern Queensland, around Byfield, north-east of Rockhampton. Plants are found in scattered populations and are locally abundant.


As its common name suggests, this cycad has far more in common, appearance wise, with ferns than with cycads. Rather than the typical circular layout of leaves, these leaves stand up straight, up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) high, and are branched, having between 6 and 10 branches on a mature leaf. The individual leaflets, arranged bipinnately around the stem, are usually between 60 to 100 mm (2.5-4ins) long, 20-30mm (0.75-1.25ins) wide and are a dark, shiny green, with serrated edges.

They have the standard pineapple shaped cone, producing green/purple, oval seeds, 30mm (2.25in) long.


Because of their attractiveness, the leaves of this plant were regularly harvested for use in floral arrangements. Collectors used to be able to get a licence for the exclusive rights to harvest in a certain area. The plants are now protected however, and they are far too slow growing to be produced commercially for this use, so they are now rarely seen in floral arrangements. Occasionally one sees plastic copies of the leaves, however.


These are forest plants, so require filtered sun, and a moist, well drained soil, with high humidity. They make an outstanding feature plant in a shady situation, and are also very good pot plants.

Usually grown from seed, pressed half way into the mix, but larger plants can also be divided to give several smaller plants.

Figure 2. B. serrulata in habitat, north Queensland.
Figure 3. B. serrulata

Contributed by:

Scott Maclean (Figure 1)
Dr. David Greenwood (Figure 2)
Mike Gray (Figure 3)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown, ATRP

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums