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PlantFiles: Cycad, Coontie, Florida Arrowroot, Seminole Bread
Zamia integrifolia

Family: Zamiaceae
Genus: Zamia (ZAM-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: integrifolia (in-teg-ree-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Zamia floridana
Synonym:Zamia media
Synonym:Zamia umbrosa
Synonym:Zamia silvicola
Synonym:Zamia lucayana

11 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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13 positives
5 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Bronto On Jul 20, 2013, Bronto from Scottsdale, AZ wrote:

Stays small but regularly grows new fronds which stay deep green even in the occasional 115+ degrees heat on the low deserts of Arizona. That is in a position with full summer sun only until noon and with daily irrigation. Seems less bothered by high temperatures than cycas revoluta which yellows easily in full sun and scorching heat. Also survived 5 days of 5-6 degrees of frost with only cotton cloth over it.

Positive TRUNK On Apr 19, 2012, TRUNK from North Andrews Gardens, FL wrote:

Unstoppable power of design in South Florida. Use it as a focal point, as a ground cover in mass, as hedge, as a potted patio plant...

I used this plant to soften a concrete planter. It has grown to be so beautiful. The fact that the plant is round is perfect because it needs no trimming, just weeding out from time to time. It has no negative attributes for my designs. I have used this plant in place of a water fountain in a japanese xeriscape. it flows with the wind and again with the perfect round circular shape it brings calm to the garden.

Positive LORI_florida On Apr 25, 2011, LORI_florida from Valrico, FL wrote:

I live outside of Tampa, FL. Got a small "coontie" from a friend 'bout 10 years ago & potted it. Totally forgot about it; it was in a trash spot on the South side of my home. It got so big it broke through the 3 gallon black plastic nursery pot. It is considered a natural habitat/xeriscape "Florida Friendly" plants in my area. Never watered, fertilized or covered it. Plant is lush, about 5 feet wide, 3 feet tall. Survived droughts, hurricanes (2004 with 4 major hurricanes in Tampa) and "worst/longest freezes ever" 2010/2011 (only a bit of browning to the leaves). In my yard, if it survives drought, freeze, neglect, natural rainfall, looks good all year round, doesn't need pruning & ain't fussy, it stays. Therefore I rated it "positive." It is used extensively in roadside/median plantings here; very hardy. Has had those funky cones many times, although this is the first year I saw the BIG RIPE OMG-ORANGE SEEDS fell off on the ground around the plant. So I collected some & simply stuck 'em in the ground to see if they would sprout & gave some to my neighbor who works for FL Dept Agriculture who stuck 'em in his yard, too. So we'll see.....

HOWEVER, Didn't know about the poisonous-ness. Didn't know about being related to sago palm! Had an experience with one of my Dalmatians who as a pup munched part of a sago "pup" I took from the base of a palm from my neighbor's yard to pot up. Caused the Dalmatian pup a lot of gastric distress, a lot of throw-up & salivating, which passed without any ill effect, thankfully. Vet-ER with IV & monitoring, $$$. Sago pup, however, got blown up out of my yard, right quick for sure.
So, the sago pup that caused my Dalmation pup to throw up got blown up. Dalmatian pup is now 14 years/3 months old. (Coontie lives in "NDZ" -- no dog zone -- so don't know if anyone would find it snack-worthy. Not gonna try to find out!)

Sago palms here suffered a rust/mite-blight & many of them in my area declined/died over past 10 years nobody has them in their yards now. Nasty sharp spiny leaves, ouch. No blight on the Coontie. Coontie, however, attracts wasps which love to nest in them, ouch. Dalmatians like to snack on flying wasps, catching them as they fly by, crazy, what? Don't they sting on the way down??

Neutral concretephil On Nov 16, 2010, concretephil from Osprey, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have this plant in full shade, in soil that is high in organic matter. It has done very well for me. I think it may do better if it had some more sun hours, but I like it where it is.
In our area, West Coast of FL, and possibly other areas of Fl, the King Sago is attacked by a scale that kills the plant pretty fast. Some how, word got around that coffie grounds work to kill the scale. Since I only have native palms, I have no idea how they are applied, to the soil, fronds or dancing around the palm, chanting and throwing the grounds into the air. To the responder that used a systemic, let it be known that he/she is a brother or sister to Chemical Ali. What a stupid thing to do.
My favorite tool for getting rid of scale, fungus and other creepy crawley sucking bugs is a blast of water. Takes a while but gets the job done. Systemic insecticide, may you take a bath it it.
Do not cut the infected fronds off. It weakens the plant and reduces the area that photosynthesis can take plce. A sure recipe for killing the plant.
I believe that there is and error in the spacing information that someone needs to correct. I don't think that a plant that spreads 3+ feet should be planted 3-4 inches apart.

Positive donnacreation On Oct 17, 2010, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This cycad is fully cold hardy in my zone 8a yard.

Neutral mmblum On Dec 23, 2007, mmblum from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

My neighbor just gave me several of the red/orange seeds today from her coontie. Do I need to do anything to the seeds before sticking them in the dirt/sand? Any helpful hints would be appreciated. Thanks!

Neutral Cretaceous On Jul 13, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Zamia integrifolia is native to Florida, and southeastern Georgia, USA.

It grows in dry woodland, usually in sandy soil.

Zamiaceae are listed on CITES Appendix II.

Positive gator357 On Jul 1, 2007, gator357 from Trenton, FL wrote:

Have 5 acres in Fanning Springs,Fl. Have coontie plants growing all over the place wild. Love them.

Positive FloridaG8or On Mar 8, 2007, FloridaG8or from Lake Butler, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I planted Coontie into my native garden last year, $20 a piece. At the time they were a little iffy. Though I have known of this plant for some time, it was the first time that I have had it in one of my gardens. It has done great, barely if ever needs to be watered, and gets thick pretty fast. I have noticed though that in the winter, at least with my plants, that it seems to slow in growth. Nevertheless it is the only green in my garden right now.
I got 37 seeds from a few plants growing on campus and I hope to get them started. I am aware of their "dangers," but I think I will live. I've just heard from a few local nurserymen that they are easy to gernminate, so hopefully I can get a few more for free.

Positive cycadjungle On Sep 21, 2006, cycadjungle from Gibsonia, FL wrote:

Zamia floridana is an excellent plant to grow here in central Florida. As long as you give it good drainage, it can tolerate a variety of growing conditions without any special care. I have collected small amounts of seeds from several native stands and am growing these seperately unique types and producing seeds on them, while still keeping their genetics pure. Coontie can be grown without any effort, but sometimes can get scales or mealy bugs. If you have scale real bad, you can cut the old leaves off and they will produce new leaves quickly that will not be infested. Mealy bugs are not common, but the closer you plant them in groups, and the less air space they get, the more of a chance you will get mealy bugs. Fortunately, they are easy to kill. From the very small Fanning Springs and Dade County forms that stay within a couple of feet tall, to the very large Palatka Giant form that can be 6 feet tall and 20 feet across, they all make very good plants to grow.

Negative debeller On Sep 6, 2006, debeller from Gainesville, FL wrote:

Let it be known, this plant is often lethal if the seeds are ingested by dogs.

Positive Stuber On Aug 1, 2005, Stuber from Fernandina Beach, FL wrote:

This is a great plant for the natural garden here in N. Fl. as it is native to many parts of the state, and though toxic, was even eaten by the Seminole indians as a kind of bread flour after leaching out the poisons. Slow to grow at first, don't give up on it if you plant small specimens. It "sleeps, creeps, and then leaps" during the first 3 or so growing seasons. I have observed 5 ft tall, 6 ft. in diameter mounds of this plant in old neighborhoods and city parks. The only advise I would differ with from above is the drastic move to cut back the plant in severe cases of scale. While scale can occasionally be a problem, I've treated some pretty bad outbreaks with a couple of doses of horticultural oil and that really did the trick. Even the black, sooty mold that so frequently accompanies this insect pest "washed away" within a few weeks as well.

Positive ematting On Mar 14, 2005, ematting from Lynn Haven, FL wrote:

I had grown Coontie (Zamia floridana) very successfully in Hernando County both from seed and by separating. On moving to Bay County (Forida Pan Handle) I brought several male plants for transplanting. These have thrived even during major freezes during the past two winters. Bay County is of course directly on the Gulf of Mexico. When frozen back, the plants all sprouted new growth in early summer. A recent 'native plant sale' in a city close to the Georgia line had native coontie for sale -- a nursery man, however, told me the coontie does not thrive in the upper or northern Pan Handle where the freezing weather is much worse than we have near the Gulf. I now regret that I did not bring a female plant with me to see how that would work - I am interested in acquiring a female plant if anyone has one available.

Neutral Stuber On Sep 5, 2004, Stuber from Fernandina Beach, FL wrote:

A slow grower in North Florida, but large plantings in older neighborhoods around here are quite impressive. One word of caution, as previously noted, this plant is highly likely to get scale and accompanying sooty mold, so occassional horticultural oil sprayings are required. Container grown specimens from the nursery are not cheap, even smaller one gallon plants, and I have experienced a 30% loss rate in the first year of transplanting into the landscape. But given all that, for my money there is still no better plant to give your yard or garden that ancient, "natural Florida' look; it should be grown more frequently, particularly by those willing to give it just a little extra care.

Positive suncatcheracres On Feb 2, 2004, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

Down here in Florida we call this plant "Coontie," and as our water situation becomes more dire, this plant is becoming more heavily used in xeriscaping. It is one of the vestiges of the more primitive forms of plants that once covered the earth millions of years ago, and it is often called a "living fossil." It is extremely variable, and has many synonyms besides Z. integrifolia, including Z. angustifolia, Z. floridana, Z. pumila, Z. silvicola and Z. umbrosa.

It grows from 1 to 4 feet tall, and as wide, or even wider. It is highly adaptable--dry or moist, sun or shade-but continuously wet soil will kill it. It is also highly susceptible to scale, which is best dealt with by completely cutting off the foilage and letting scale free foilage grow back. Otherwise it is maintenance free.

The male and female cones are produced on separate plants, flower in the spring, and produce red-orange seeds in large cones in the fall. Seedlings self sow near the mother plant.

It is the larval food of the Atala Hairstreak butterfly (Eumaeus atala florida) and severe infestations can defoliate large stands of this plant in a very short time.

Landscapers are currently using two forms of this plant, a wide leafed variety that forms huge clumps, and a smaller narrow leafed variety. Someone just gave me a narrow leaf plant, and I'm looking for a suitable part-shade place for it in my garden.

The above information was taken from "A Gardener's Guide to Florida's Native Plants" by Rufino Osorio, but I already knew a lot about this plant, as it is a beautiful, drought-tolerant, native, evergreen addition to our often very small scale Florida gardens. It frames short entrance walkways and doorsteps everywhere in Florida suburbs, with it's evergreen mounds, and I once saw small dinosaur figures arranged under several plants in a St. Petersburg garden. I guess you would have to be a gardener to get the reference.

Neutral palmbob On Oct 16, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is an extremely common cycad, as far as cycads go, and is not one of the more beautiful cycads.. but it still has a lot of worthiness as a low, durable landscape plant in warmer zones. It is a native of Florida and a few other southern states, as well as Central America. The plant produces lime green leathery leaves and nice looking cones (this is not a flowering plant- more closely related to a conifer). It is a very variable plant with wide to narrow leaflets, some long, some short. It is one of the easiest cycads to germinate, though most are pretty easy. It also one of the fasted to mature, going from seed to coning plant sometimes in as little as 5 years.

Notes have been made about its toxicity.. It is toxic, but more importantly, it has highly toxic fruits and dogs will readily eat these fruits (I suppose children might, too). The fruits unfortunately, reportedly do NOT taste bad enough to let the ingester on to its toxic potential, as is the case with most toxic plant material. This is probably the third most commonly ingested species in cases of cycad pet poisonings, only behind Cycas revoluta (Sago Palms) and Zamia furfuracea (more commonly grown). This is particularly the case in Florida where these plants produce fruits frequently (here in California where I grow a few of these, the native pollinators are not around and I have never seen one in fruit out here). Cycad poisoning is potentially fatal so careful if you have dogs and are growing these plants.

Positive TerriFlorida On Oct 5, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

I have grown coontie from seed, and I have grown a potted one. I suspect the potted one got fertilizer at the nursery, as it got large very quickly, but it may just have been at the grow fast stage for these ancient plants.

I did not take any particular care with skin contact while removing the waxy orange seed coating, but used a lot of water and washed my hands very well when I was done. It's not the easiest thing I've ever done, so I only did it once, about ten years ago. No ill effects so far.

I moved three seedlings (each about 18" across) to my new garden a year and a half ago, or a bit longer. They are doing well. These plants are quite tolerant, which is probably why they have survived even humans, grin.

Positive ButterflyGardnr On Jan 9, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a generally carefree plant. It is somewhat susceptible to scale infestations, which are usually followed or accompanied by a covering of sooty mold. The plants make a nice presentation in the landscape when planted in numbers. There are separate male and female plants, which are distinguished by the size and shape of the cones on the plant. Male cones are tall and thin, while female cones are short and squat. Female cones produce bright orange-red seeds. The seeds germinate easily. They will germinate more quickly if the seed coating is removed or scarified. It is believed that the seed is carcinogenic and should be handled only with gloves. Carefully discard the seed coatings if you remove them--they can be toxic. The root of this plant was ground for flour by the indians and can be found in the commercial market as Arrowroot flour. The root contains hydrocyanic acid, which is a deadly toxin, so care had to be taken to rinse that compound out of the root as it was being ground. The roots of this plant were commercially harvested for flour in the 1800s and early 1900s, causing the wild populations to be decimated. There are still some wild specimens, though it is most common in cultivation. This plant is the larval food of the Atala hairstreak butterfly, which is endangered. This plant is very cold tolerant.

Positive IslandJim On Sep 22, 2002, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

A Florida native cycad that thrives on neglect once it's established; needs regular watering until then. Seeds are borne on cones.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Scottsdale, Arizona
Huntington Beach, California
Reseda, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Tulare, California
Atlantic Beach, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Clermont, Florida
Crystal River, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Deltona, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (4 reports)
Fort Pierce, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lake Butler, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Lutz, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Osprey, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Safety Harbor, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Summerfield, Florida
Venice, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Moultrie, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Cayce, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Houston, Texas
La Porte, Texas
Spring, Texas

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