Macrozamia communis or Burrawang is the most common Cycas of the east coast of New South Wales in Australia.
Cycas is a family of prehistoric plants that already existed at the time of the dinosaurs in the Mesozoic.
The seeds are highly toxic but are eaten by Aborigines after a long treatment by crushing the seeds and soaking them in water (though it is not proven that the toxicity is nullified by this, or even decreases).
Macrozamia communis is widely distributed in culture because of its elegant appearance, the ease with which it can be grown and its resistance to frost.
And although Cycas are usually slow growing, it will still constitute a large specimen relatively quickly if sufficient water and fertilizer and a well drained soil are provided. It can be grown in pots as well as in the garden.
Macrozamia communis is a medium to large cycad with fern-like leaves that grow from a short or subterranean trunk. Usually, the trunk is underground but in shallow rocky soils it may appear above ground.
The leaves are 1-2 m long with glossy green, linear-shaped leaf segments of 10-30 cm.
It produces no flowers but cones on separate male and female plants. The male cones are cylindrical in shape, up to 45 cm long and 15 cm wide and turn gray-brown with age. Female cones are barrel-shaped to about 45 cm long and 20 cm wide. If the female cone is ripe, it breaks open to release the big, bright red seeds. The seeds are about 3-5 cm and 2-3 cm wide.
In its natural habitat, Macrozamia communis can form extensive colonies as undergrowth in eucalyptus forests.
Macrozamia: from the Greek makros (tall) and zamia (a genus of Cycas).
Communis: from the Latin communis (common).
New South Wales, Australia
Open forest on sandy to loamy soils along the coast of New South Wales. Usually occurs as undergrowth of Eucalyptus trees.
Zone USDA 8-11, -8 °C
Nutritious, moist but especially very well drained.
Give water daily during the summer.
Fertilize in spring with solid fertilizer that releases its nutrients slowly. Fertilize monthly during the growing season with universal liquid fertilizer.
Repot in the spring, when the pot is too small.
Macrozamia communis is easily propagated by seed. The seed does not need treatment and may be sown in a pot with light, moist soil at room temperature. Cover the pot with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation of the water.
It may happen that the roots do not find the way out and grow under the shell all around the seed. This can be overcome by removing the shell carefully and then putting the seeds back into the substrate where they will resume normal growing.