Plants

Cycas

Extraordinary plants

The natural world is full of extraordinary testimonies of what nature has been able to produce; we could talk about animals capable of reaching and exceeding one hundred kilometers per hour of speed (!) to be able to capture prey or with necks up to two meters long and more to be able to feed on the best leaves (which are on top of the trees), so as one could speak of insects capable of having a brute force equal to fifty times their body weight (as if all men could lift a weight of about seven hundred kilos), as one could speak of extraordinary plants: the plant world, studying it and trying to understand it in its progressive developments, it really leaves you speechless, because it has been on our planet for millions of years. Well, one wonders, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, but you should consider that in these millions of years two or three little things about this mass of rocks that swirl around the Sun have happened: glaciations, incredible volcanic eruptions, climate changes, super-earthquakes and other events that have also changed how the Earth looks at our eyes. And the plants have survived all this by managing to modify many of their characteristics and therefore diversifying according to need. Which, objectively, impresses. And the plants have survived all this by managing to modify many of their characteristics and therefore diversifying according to need. Which, objectively, impresses. And the plants have survived all this by managing to modify many of their characteristics and therefore diversifying according to need. Which, objectively, impresses.

Fossils … living


No, ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t have a few too many drinks before we grabbed paper and inkwells and wrote this article; we understand all your doubts about it by reading the title, but we assure you that this is not the case. You have before you an oxymoron, that is a very short phrase (usually two words) with strong internal contrasts, that is, made up of words in contrast with each other in terms of meaning; but this serves no purpose other than to render the meaning perfectly well. With the terminology of «living fossil», science communicators define those species currently living on Earth that for longevity, genetic and visual characteristics and for various other aspects are very similar to species that lived millions of years ago that today are abundantly extinct. The beauty is that, in addition to the great communication skills, these living organisms also have an exceptional scientific significance, because they help to interpret the fossils found of similar species that would otherwise be too difficult to frame with a certain precision. There are enough examples of this kind, not very many, but it is easy to imagine because these are truly incredible situations. A classic living animal fossil is the crocodile, really a miniature dinosaur, or even the iguana. While speaking of plants, we could refer to the baobab, an African tree that is also very studied in compulsory schools, or to the cycas. There are enough examples of this kind, not very many, but it is easy to imagine because these are truly incredible situations. A classic living animal fossil is the crocodile, really a miniature dinosaur, or even the iguana. While speaking of plants, we could refer to the baobab, an African tree that is also very studied in compulsory schools, or to the cycas. There are enough examples of this kind, not very many, but it is easy to imagine because these are truly incredible situations. A classic living animal fossil is the crocodile, really a miniature dinosaur, or even the iguana. While speaking of plants, we could refer to the baobab, an African tree that is also very studied in compulsory schools, or to the cycas.

The cycas

This name will probably not say anything to someone, but we are sure that many people know what we are talking about; do you know why cycas are never mentioned among living fossils? Because it is too common. You read that right, too common. Many people who dabble in the garden or even just with plants on the balcony probably have a cycad in the house; in general, the plant is much loved for the simplicity with which it is cared for, for its longevity and because it is very elegant and decorative, while remaining simple. It has a similar appearance to the palm family, especially for the large leaves at the apex and for the unbranched and erect stem, but in reality from the genetic and evolutionary point of view it is very close to the Conifer family, which in appearance are not at all similar but you will understand that this is due to an evolution that was stopped a few million years ago. This plant also grows very well in pots and resists if treated well for many years at home, even if in this situation it proves not to grow and develop as it could.

Cycas in the garden

The family to which the Cycas belong is called Cicadaceae, but the Cicas are the only genus present in this family. Why? Think back to living fossils and how many years have passed since this family probably populated much of the land and you will have the answer. We will never be able to ascertain why the cycas survived, too much time has passed and we have too little evidence from the same period; just think that the Cycas appeared on Earth some time before the first Dinosaurs, imagine what a wonder from the historical-scientific point of view we are talking about. The vast majority of people who have a cycad in the garden do not think about these things when watering it or cutting the older leaves to allow the new ones to develop at their best (this is the only pruning technique for this plant), but only to the fact that the plant proves to be extraordinarily furnishing, because it has dark and intense green leaves that are elegant and suitable for any type of garden. It should be noted that the rarest specimens are males, in fact the cycas is dioecious, ie there are distinct males and females; more or less the proportion is one to eight or one to seven between males and females, therefore with a large number of females more than males. because it has dark and intense green leaves that are elegant and suitable for any type of garden. It should be noted that the rarest specimens are males, in fact the cycas is dioecious, ie there are distinct males and females; more or less the proportion is one to eight or one to seven between males and females, therefore with a large number of females more than males. because it has dark and intense green leaves that are elegant and suitable for any type of garden. It should be noted that the rarest specimens are males, in fact the cycas is dioecious, ie there are distinct males and females; more or less the proportion is one to eight or one to seven between males and females, therefore with a large number of females more than males.

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