This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

June 29, 2013

The difference between varieties of dioon edule cycads

I have several Dioon cycads here at The Tropical Paradise. Dioon is the name of the genus. So the species name would be (Dioon) spinulosum, or (Dioon) edule.

Of the Dioon edules I have here, I have two varieties, one called "palma sola" and one that is just called "edule".  Actually, the edule variety is just the plain vanilla, but since the palma sola is so popular, I try to always add var. edule in my descriptions. The photo at left is a Dioon edule, var. edule.

Once the leaves are mature, these two varieties look exactly the same. The only way that you can see the difference is when the leaves are young, while it's flushing. The new palma sola leaves are bright green, the edule leaves are anywhere from a greenish-yellow to a bronzy-brown.

Cycads usually only grow once a year, so you really have to see a Dioon edule in flush to know for yourself that it is a palma sola or a regular edule. Or you have to buy it from someone you trust.

I prefer the palma sola, because I live in the Phoenix area, and it takes heat better. Both varieties of edule do fine here in the desert, but over the years I've seen the palm sola definitely has the edge.

Dang, this description even has started to get me confused! Anyway, the photo is of a Dioon edule var. edule, flushing with its typical bronzy young leaves. At maturity, they will be greenish-blue, just like last season's leaves.
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