Bowenia spectabilis

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Figure 1. Bowenia spectabilis


Common Names:

Zamia Fern

Distribution & Habitat:

Found in and around open rainforest in north-eastern Queensland, on the coast and ranges from Cardwell to Cooktown, with an outlying occurrence in the McIlraith Range.


Very similar in appearance to Bowenia serrulata, however this plant has smooth, rather than serrated edges to the leaves. The leaves stand up straight from the underground tuber, up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) high, and are branched, usually having about 7 branches on a mature leaf. The individual leaflets, arranged bipinnately around the stem, are usually between 60 to 100mm (2.5-4ins) long, 20-30mm (0.75-1.25ins) wide and are a dark, shiny green, with smooth edges.

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


These are forest plants, so require filtered sun, and a moist, well drained soil, with high humidity. Not as commonly grown as B. serrulata, however they still make an very nice 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. spectabilis in the Daintree rainforest.
Figure 3. B. spectabilis in Flecker Botanical Garden, Cairns.
Figure 4. B. spectabilis male cones.

B. spectabilis in habitat at Cow Bay in the Daintree Rainforest.

Figure 5. B. spectabilis
Figure 6. B. spectabilis
Figure 7. B. spectabilis
Figure 8. B. spectabilis
Figure 9. B. spectabilis which was measured at 2.16 metres high.
Figure 10. B. spectabilis stems.
Figure 11. B. spectabilis female cone.
Figure 12. B. spectabilis female cone.

Contributed by:

Mike Gray (Text)
Lyle Arnold (Figures 2&3)
Paul Kennedy (Figure 4)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown, ATRP

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums