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Species of the Day – Zamia purpurea

December 23, 2012

Species of the Day - Zamia purpurea

Zamia purpurea is the only known species of Zamia with distinctly deep reddish-purple emerging leaves and purplish young seed cones that can be distinguished from other Central American species.

Zamia purpurea is endemic to Mexico and  known only from a very few localities in Oaxaca and Veracruz (Uxpanapa district), where it grows mainly at 100-500m in evergreen or nearly evergreen rainforest as an understorey plant, generally in limestone outcrops and on rainforest floor.

Zamia purpurea is listed Critcally Endangered due to an decline of 50-70% over the past three generations and an estimated population of 2,000 mature individuals in the wild. Habitat destruction as a result of clear cutting for crops and grazing has an effect on the plants in the wild.

Zamia purpurea are surviving in cultivation but wild populations are few and far between and appear to be barely surviving, (e.g) the Once subpopulation in Veracruz consists of 100 plants. Zamia species must be thoroughly studied to better understand their population structure and reproductive biology that would help conservationist in ensuring its long term survival. This species is listed on Appendix II of the CITES Appendices.

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