Montgomery Botanical Center - Cycads

Cycad Collection


Montgomery Botanical Center
Miami, Florida
Dr. Patrick Griffith, Executive Director
Michael Calonje, Cycad Biologist

Primary Focus:
Conservation Collection focused on genetic, geographic, and taxonomic diversity

222 taxa, 1226 accessions, 2938 total plants
85% known to be wild-collected

The Cycad Collection at Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) began in 1932 when Col. Robert H. Montgomery established his estate, Coconut Grove Palmetum. The Collection has expanded over the years to include Cycads from 46 countries growing in a wide range of habitats. It contains representatives within the Cycadales order, which encompasses the three families Cycadaceae, Zamiaceae, and Stangeriaceae. The MBC site has proven quite amenable to cultivation of a wide diversity of Cycads from all known families. Data on provenance, collector, growth, and development are now maintained in electronic format accessible to researchers.

MBC's cycad accessions are obtained through research and conservation expeditions. Growing conditions, climate, soils, and habitat variation onsite support a collection with wide taxonomic and biogeographic breadth. MBC's collecting protocol seeks to maximize capture of populational genetic diversity by obtaining sufficient seed from a minimum of five mother plants to ultimately plant at least three plants from each mother into the collection. Detailed data and photographs of field-collected populations are maintained, as well as ongoing ex situ development imaging documenting growth and phenology. Cycad seeds are recalcitrant, making long-term storage of viable seed difficult. Vegetative reproduction is slow and many Cycads need many years before they reach reproductive maturity and begin seed production. MBC maintains a viable conservation collection by growing significant population samples of each taxon to ensure the vigor of F1 progeny. The original wild-collected germplasm can be preserved through propagation and distribution.

MBC's Cycad Biology Program is led by Michael Calonje who is an expert in ex situ conservation strategies with extensive international Cycad collecting experience. He has been especially active in collecting Cycad germplasm in Latin America and the Caribbean. An important outcome of Michael's fieldwork is novel phytogeographic information. Executive Director Dr. Patrick Griffith performs collections-based phenological and natural history research using the Collection. Palm biologist Dr. Larry Noblick has contributed numerous additions through his fieldwork. Cycad Curator Stella Cuestas and Collections Manager Chad Husby oversee the active curation of the Cycad Collection.

The Collection is primarily augmented through international collaborations with research botanists, professors, and botanic gardens proximal to the areas being explored. MBC is committed to ethical provenance of its germplasm, maintaining rigorous standards for permitting, international collaboration, conservation protocol, and scientific documentation. It ultimately hopes to grow nearly all of the approximately 300 known Cycad taxa.

The Cycad Collection is accessible to qualified researchers at any time. The general public may arrange a visit by contacting MBC to make an appointment.

Montgomery Botanical Center - Provenance of Cycad Accessions

Taxonomic References and Authorities:
Cycad Classification: Concepts and Recommendations. Appendix 1 "World Checklist of Cycads". Hill, Stevenson, and Osborne. 2005.

Michael Calonje, Cycad Biologist, Montgomery Botanical Center

December 2007