Coontie (Zamia integrifolia)


Educational Story

The Coontie, Zamia integrifolia, is Florida’s only native cycad.  Native Americans processed the large underground roots of coontie into a starchy flour.  It is sometimes called Coontie Palm or Coontie Fern based on its tropical appearance. but it is a gymnosperm more closely related to pine trees than palms or ferns.  Coontie is a dioecious cycad that produces separate male and female plants. Female plants produce large cones filled with fleshy bright orange seeds at the base of the plant. The beautiful, endangered Atala Butterfly uses Coontie exclusively as its larval host plant, and the larvae are able to withstand the natural toxins in the Coontie leaves.

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Gardening Facts

Scientific Name: Zamia integrifolia
Common Name: Coontie, Florida Arrowroot
Description of facts and concepts: An small ancient cycad that supports an endangered butterfly and is often used in Florida landscaping.
Seed or division information: The fleshy seed coat must be removed to start germination.  Stem cuttings can be used to create new plants.
Date of flower’s bloom (Month and week): N/A (Gymnosperm)
Ecoregion: Dry, sandy soils, sand pine scrub
Color of Flower:  None (Gymnosperm)
Height:  1-3 feet
Spread:  3-5 feet
Family:  Zamiaceae
Soil Type: Base to Acidic  Acidic
Soil: Dry to Wet  Well-drained
Light: Sun to Shade  Full Sun to Part Shade
Zone 9A-11B