Florida Arrowroot

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The Florida Arrowroot, Zamia integrifolia, is not an angiosperm (flowering plants). This species belongs to one of the four Major Vascular Plant Groups, the Gymnosperms.  Integrifolia is a small woody multi-stemmed plant that is native to the S.E. portion of the Country. Integrifolia is a long-lived perennial that resides in upland hardwood forests, pine flatwoods and coastal hammocks in every county in Florida except the panhandle. The plant grows from a thick starchy tuber. Height is 2’ to 3’ and 3’ to 5’ wide. The plant has compound leaves that are similar to ferns. About 20 linear leaflets 5” long and ½” wide are arranged alternately on the stems. Margins entire. Venation is parallel.

Integrifolia has cones fixed in the ground. Plants are dioecious with separate male and female cones. Slender male cones are 3” to 6” high.  Female cones are elongated 3” to 7” high. Seeds are an orange color and ½” to 1” wide.  Male cones have pollen that are carried to the females by two species of weevils. Pollination occurs year-round.

Integrifolia is commonly referred to as Coontie. It is the larva host of the rare Atala butterfly. Regretfully, all parts of Integrifolia are poisonous. The specimen in the photo is a female releasing three seeds. There are two species in the Genus Zamia. Zamiaceae is the family.

 

Photo by James Rodwell