East Coast of NSW - the most extensive distribution of any cycad in New South Wales and the most southerly occurring cycad species in the world
Evergreen soft wooded perennial
Up to 3m x 3m
M. communis is a medium to large cycad with a woody trunk which is 30-80cm in diameter and 30-150cm tall. The trunk is typically underground, but may be emergent where growing on shallow soils or on rocky sites.
Sharp pointed leaves are 50-100mm, flat, pinnately compound, up to 200cm long. Fronds are arranged in a gracefully rounded crown arching out from the central trunk. Dark green coloured fronds become dull with age
The species is dioecious, meaning that female and male reproductive organs are situated on separate plants. Female plants typically bear 1-3 cones which are glaucous, erect, then drooping when mature, barrel-shaped and 200-450mm long by 100-200mm in diameter. Male plants bear 1-5 glaucous cones, which are erect, then drooping after pollen is shed, cylindrical and 200-450mm long by 80-120mm in diameter.
The seeds are 30-45mm by 20-30mm in size, oblong to ovoid in shape and with an orange, bright red, or sometimes yellow fleshy covering when ripe. Poisonous unless prepared expertly.
Bark / Trunk:
It can have either a subterranean caudex, an aerial extension of the caudex or a short columnar trunk. The woody trunk can be 30-80cm in diameter and 30-150cm tall
Vigour / Longevity:
Well-suited to large pots or directly in the ground, it grows at a moderate rate and given enough water and fertilizer and well-drained soils, it will form sizable specimens in a relatively short time. Long lived.
Locally abundant in wet to dry sclerophyll forests, in coastal areas they grow in sandy soils and in nearby coastal ranges they grow in gravelly loams. M. communis naturally grows in an understorey environment, in a temperate climate with warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters with regular rainfall, toleratesthe frosts occurring in some areas. In cultivation it is suited to temperate and subtropical regions and has been known to survive temperatures as low as -8ºC.
Tolerant of short periods of drought, reasonably cold tolerant. Can tolerate light frosts to -3
Soil / Drainage:
Like most cycads, any fertile free draining soil will reward in a sub-tropical - temperate understorey envrionment
Remove dead leaves to keep the plant tidy.
Best growth with reliable watering.
Organic nitrogenous fertilisers or slow release fertilisers during the growing season will improve the growth rate.
Pests / Diseases:
Mealybugs can be easily controlled by the application of insecticide twice during the growing season. Scale insects, which may occasionally infest the crown, can be controlled in the same way.
Attractive rockery feature plant and understorey ground cover. Sharp fronds make for a great barrier planting in areas of dappled shade. Coastal and native gardens.
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