Dioon purpusii

Source: tato grasso

Dioon purpusii

Dioon purpusii or Mexican Cycad comes from a limited area in Mexico where it is threatened.

It is only slightly hardy and prefers overwintering indoors.

Growth is very slow.


Dioon purpussi grows up to 1-3 m hight, the pseudostem is on average 30 cm high and leaves up to 160 cm long.

The leaves are dull gray-green, flat or keel-shaped, 80-160 cm long. They are composed of a stalk which bears leaflets on both sides. There are 150-260 leaflets, 7 to 12 cm long, 8-10 mm wide.

The male inflorescence is green or brown, ovoid, 20-30 cm long and 7-8 cm wide.

The female inflorescence is pale brown, ovoid and much larger than the male inflorescence: 35-45 cm long and 15-20 cm wide.

The seeds are ovoid, 3-4 cm long and 2.5-3.5 cm wide. The sarcotesta (outer layer of the seed) is cream or white.


Ornamental. The seeds are used locally to treat sore eyes: the seeds are ground into flour made into paste which is applied to the eyes.


Common names:

Mexican cycad, Palma de la Virgen, Palmita


Dioon edule var. purpusii


Dioon: from the greek dis (two) and oon (eggs) because the seeds are formed per pair
Purpusii: in honor of the german plant collector Carl Albert Purpus


A small area in Mexico: Oaxaca, Puebla. It grows in fertile pockets of soil and prefers a uniform temperature.


Tropical deciduous forest on the sides of steep gorges


USDA zone 9-11, -5 °C for short periods



Well drained, dry, mix: 6 parts peat, 1 part pumice, 1 part organic matter




Water every 2-3 weeks with one or two buckets of water (depending on the size of the plant). Let the substrate dry out between waterings.


Tolerates poor and dry soil but regular fertilization will promote growth. At the end of winter, give a solid fertilizer that releases nutrients slowly. In spring give liquid fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.


Bring indoors for the winter or provide winter protection


Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • soak seeds for 24 hours in tepid water
  • sow just under the surface in a mixture 1/1 sand and peat
  • moisten
  • 25 °C
  • germination: 1-3 months