How’s that for a long, awkward to pronounce, name for a rather dramatic and wonderful plant from the eastern end of the New South Wales/ Queensland border of Australia. It is actually the name of a cycad (which look like palms but are not related, being closely aligned to ferns and conifers ) that grow up to eight metres high. With two to three metre long, glossy, dark green leaves, this easy to grow, great garden plant gives a very tropical feel to the garden.
Plants are either male or female. The flower is like a massive pine cone and in nature, male pollen is blown onto it, the pollen germinates into the largest sperm in the world, which swims to the female egg and fertilization occurs. The receptive period is only for a few days.
In 2002 I was well organised for a new female cone, the male gave the pollen and I was lucky enough to have someone passing through who said the scales were just lifting and it was time to do the deed!!!!! It seems just about anything goes to try and get the seeds pollinated—I blew in dry pollen using a plastic tube which worked well and my visitor said cut off the top and pour some pollen in solution down the four holes opened up which I did.
Five days later all the scales closed and then it was time to wait and see if I was successful. It takes about ten months for the cone to ripen and about another year before the seeds are fully matured before they start germinating and we finally get baby plants!!There is nothing like patience.
Finally the cone breaks up and beautiful red seeds appear. Don’t touch as the red flesh has toxins in it. From these we grew a number of young plants for future sales.
In December 2003 a new female cone started appearing and was watched closely for the scales to part so it could be pollinated. Nothing was seen so the top was cut off and pollen was poured in. In due course the cone fell apart. Unfortunately the pollination didn’t work so no fertile seeds were formed. Because the scales open so little and for such a short time it is not easy to fertilize the embryos of Lepidozamias,