I took a self-guided botanical tour at the San Diego Zoo. The zoo has a huge collection of plants -the zoo claims more than a million. It’s been said that the plant collection is more valuable than the animal collection. They do a great deal of conservation work, maintaining rare species. San Diego Zoo Botanical Collection.
There are botanical self-guided walking tour map sheets you can pick up from a holder on the north end of the zoo (near the high school), just beyond the Meercat exhibit. The sheets I’ve seen are: Cycad Tour, Flamingo Lagoon Palms, Reptile Mesa, Monkey Trails, Leonard Kent Bromeliad Garden, and Elephant Odyssey. Here’s the Cycad Tour sheet:
With the limited time I had, I decided to go check out the cycads. Cycads are fascinating, dramatic, ancient plants that have evolved and survived through eons of changes on Earth. They’ve survived hundreds of millions of years. Many species are very rare, and they are generally very slow growing – another reason they are valuable specimens.
Here’s a nice specimen of Lepidozamia peroffsyana, a species from Australia (HDR – High Dynamic Range photo):
Here’s a cycad from South or Central Africa, of the genus Encephalartos:
This Australian cycad of the genus Macrozamia had some female cones developing:
I spotted a nice cycad with a seed cone that had already dropped seeds. The scales that contain the seeds are called sporophylls. I believe this cycad is a Lepidozamia peroffskyana (also from Australia):
Here’s a closer look:
This cycad had some new leaves emerging, which I thought were cool looking. I shot this before I picked up the plant guide sheets and didn’t get the location information to help identify it, but it’s probably Cycas revoluta. (The odd shapes around the central leaves are the remains of the female cone):
Here are Some Links I used when trying to learn about and identify the cycads I saw:
More Links of Interest: