Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cycad, Chestnut Dioon, Edible-Seed Cycas
Dioon edule

Family: Zamiaceae
Genus: Dioon (dy-OH-awn) (Info)
Species: edule (ED-yew-lee) (Info)

Synonym:Dioon edule var. edule
Synonym:Dioon imbricatum
Synonym:Dioon strobilaceum
Synonym:Zamia macleni
Synonym:Platyzamia rigida

6 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

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:
Full Sun
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:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds
This plant is fire-retardant
This plant is resistant to deer

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 a damp paper towel
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 31 photos.
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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive poeciliopsis On Feb 26, 2015, poeciliopsis from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Central Phoenix -- I am impressed with the versatility of Dioon edule. For about 20 years I had a plant in a medium-size pot in partial shade that got water every other week in summer and none in winter. It stayed outside in winter with no freeze damage. It got quite potbound, so I pulled it out and used a hatchet to separate the dense woody root mass. I thought I had killed it, but one of the 2 divisions regrew and is now in the same pot, but with less water and more shade. It seems happy. I also have a two-year old plant in dense shade with water once a month in summer and none in winter. It is doing very well. Another two-year old plant, in a large pot in partial shade with every-other-week summer water is doing poorly.

Positive Phoolan On Nov 28, 2012, Phoolan from San Luis Obispo, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

My dioon was 4' when purchased and spent a year in it's nursery pot before I planted it in a semi-sheltered spot. I live in the coastal Rio Grande Valley, the soil in my yard is poor and sandy. Harsh, salty winds are nearly constant. Temperatures in the summer were between 90 to 100 degrees for months. Other specimens that I've noticed around town, planted in full sun, look bleached and exhausted. Given part shade, enough but not too much water, a little fertilizer and it's been doing well.

Neutral TheAmericanGardener On Jan 10, 2010, TheAmericanGardener from Portland, OR wrote:

Experimenting with this cycad in the ground in Portland Oregon. It has survived 2 hard freezes each lasting a week or more. I have a small and larger one both on the south facing side of the house. Smaller one has taken leaf damage each time but the larger one has taken no cold damage, only snow load damage. I would not say it takes snow load well when its leafs are large but I am impressed with how cold hardy it is.

Neutral Cretaceous On Jun 20, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Dioon edule is native to northern and central Mexico (Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Queretaro, and Veracruz).

It grows in rocky habitats where annual rainfall is 39-59 inches. Grows well here in zone 9b.

Zamiaceae are listed on CITES Appendix II.

Positive palmbob On Sep 26, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Though this plant is so common, it's hard to get excited about it anymore, still a nice looking older specimen is a great looking plant, so I guess my experience has been positive. I have germinated countless numbers of this species, and they have got to be one of the easiest plants in the world to germinate. The seeds are about a large grape size and hard as a rock, yet somehow that little eophyl makes its way out into the soil.

Like most all Dioons, this is a Mexican native, and is not threatened at this time (unlike about all other members of the genus). It is readily found in most nurseries in Southern California and is quite hardy here. It is a very adaptable plant to just about any soil except muddy, non-draining clay (and even then it will sometimes survive.. but usually rots). The leaves are very stiff, blue-green, to sea-green, to green-green and each leaflet is simple and ends in a sharp spine. Just about all the other Dioon species have more complex leaflets, or they are not arranged on a flat plane like these are. The caudex tends to grow quite slowly and a plant with 1 foot of stem can be quite old (20-40 years+).

There are several varieties of Dioon edule, and some put these varieties in different species categories. Most all look about the same except for minor variations in the leaf pattern.


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

Phoenix, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Brentwood, California
El Cerrito, California
Hayward, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Wildomar, California
Brandon, Florida
Fruitland Park, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Windermere, Florida
Savannah, Georgia
Las Vegas, Nevada
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Portland, Oregon
Cayce, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Cedar Park, Texas
Pearland, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas

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