Florida Arrowroot

Zamia integrifolia

Synonyms:  Coontie, Seminole Bread, Zamia floridana, Zamia media, Zamia silvicola, Zamia lucayana.

The Florida Arrowroot, or Zamia integrifolia, is a fantastic shrubby cycad from the Southern United States and Caribbean Islands. Unlike many cycads, this plant doesn’t have much of a trunk or other strong architectural features. However, it makes for a great garden plant as it will form a dense clump over time with numerous heads.

Zami integrifolia is called the Florida Arrowroot as it is one of several tropical plants used to make the starchy food product arrowroot. Native Americans used the plant as a food source for thousands of years. Early European settlers decimated wild populations, with a single factory in Miami said to have processed 10-15 tons of root per day at the peak of the production. It would take decades for a plant to produce even a kilo of harvestable stem! Note that although edible, all parts of the plant are poisonous unless properly prepared.

This plant is extremely tough and hardy to grow. Although it usually looks best in part sun or dappled shade, Zamia integrifolia is capable of growing in full sun or even full shade if it’s watered appropriately (more water in sun, less in shade). Like many cycads, this one seems to be prone to scale on the leaf undersides. Scale can be treated with pest oils or other insecticides, but small infestations are best treated by hand as then you can remove the unsightly insects (dead scale will often remain attached to the plant). Mealybug can be a minor issue too. Plants kept in too wet or in too much shade become prone to root rot, so watch the watering, especially when conditions are cold.

Applications

  • Tropical gardens
  • Balinese gardens
  • Potted specimen
  • Border plant
  • Xeric gardens

Care

Easy to grow. Does best in rich, free-draining soil in full sun or part shade. Water in well in summer, back off a lot in winter. Use quality fertilizer such as Troforte or Organic Link regularly to produce strong growth.

Features

  • Finely divided dark green leaves

  • Short clumping habit
  • Unusual flower cones

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    Size

    Height: 60-100cm
    Width: 100-200cm (clumping)

    Light

    Full sun to part shade

    Watering

    Moderate watering.

    Growth Rate

    Slow growth rate.
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