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This interesting small cycad was first described from material collected from Planet Downs Station west of Rockhampton. It was discovered somewhat later than most others in the Parazamia group possibly because, as remarked by earlier writers, it seems no evidence existed that it was a serious danger to livestock so that there was not much to bring it to the notice of graziers. Even today it is not particularly well known to many people as it is not commonly cultivated and its habitat is rather remote.
My specimen has four leaves which rise erect from the crown and then curve over in a very pronounced fashion. The entire foliage has a shiny leathery appearance. Its growth structure is typical of the species though the largest in habitat have nine or ten leaves up to a metre in length. The middle pinnae on my plant are 37.5c m long and 15 to 20mm broad. The name "platyrachis" refers to the broad rachis but it may be said that the pinnae are also noticeably broader than any other parazamia. As far as I know not a great deal has been written to describe its habitat adequately but as a help in cultivation it is good to know something of its habitat and associated plants.
Figure 2. M. platyrachis in habitat, Blackdown Table lands NP in July this year.
Habitat and Distribution:
Macrozamia platyrachis is the most northerly known of the
Section Parazamia with by far the largest colony to be found on the
Blackdown Tablelands. It is a hilly area with steep escarpments and
generally rises from 500 metres to nearly 1000 metres and is located
west of Rockhampton and slightly south of the township of Dingo. The
tableland is a likely future tourist area and was declared a national
park in 1982. Most of it is open eucalypt country while on its eastern
side the escarpments have a few lovely waterfalls and streams cascading
to cool gorges, the best known being Rainbow Falls and Stony Creek
Falls. The soils of the area are mostly deep sandy loam, well suited
for eucalypts, two worth a mention being the Yellow Stringy Bark and
the Blackdown Stringy Bark. The palm
Livistona fulva, endemic to this locality,
is predominant. To add colour to a very picturesque place there are
acacias and Pultenea. In another section to the east, and down near the
creeks, the Melaleuca linariifolia and a fine form of Banksia spinulosa
hold sway. It is however on the western side of the plateau, among huge
outcrops of sandstone boulders, that the best colonies of
Macrozamia platyrachis are found growing among communities of
the eucalypt known as Yellow Jacket and Grevillea longistylis. On the
sandstone boulders, the lovely Silver Elkhorn Platycerium veitchii, and
the Rock Fern Drynaria rigidula can be found.
The drive into the national park includes quite a distance of rough
unsealed road and this, together with the national park status and not
being really accessible to stock, all help in the conservation of the
species. Growing mature plants from seed takes a long time, so
enthusiasts wanting larger plants have generally been able to obtain
plants legitimately from the owners of farms bordering the plateau.
(Editors Note: "Some time ago I was given some plants of this species.
They were generally in a very poor condition and some had already died
while most had diseased or dead roots. They were in a sawdust based
potting mix with very poor air-filled porosity so I cleaned them up and
repotted them in a mix consisting mainly of pinebark. This mix has
given good results with many cycads but it was not entirely
satisfactory for Macrozamia platyrachis. After a year or so and
the loss of a few more plants I repotted them again into a mix composed
mainly of perlite and a small proportion of coir peat. They have now
begun to recover and good roots are visible through the drain holes of
the containers in which they are growing. It seems that perfect
drainage and a good supply of air to the roots is of utmost importance
in the cultivation of this species" . - Will Kraa.)
Len P. Butt. (Text from Palms&Cycads Apr-Jun 1994)
Scott Maclean (Figures 1&2)