New Paper on Cycad Anatomy

The oldest cycads still show features of ancient plants – this is one idea put forward in the latest paper from the Montgomery Team. The study, appearing in the latest issue of International Journal of Plant Sciences, carefully examined the leaflet anatomy of Cycas, the oldest surviving lineage of cycads, and compared the anatomy to relationships and geography of these living treasures.

The study is important due to the new discovery of how recently living cycad species evolved (see the August 8, 2013 and September 2013 News Items here). Although the genus Cycas is very old, originating around 200 million years ago – the middle of the Age of Dinosaurs – living Cycas species are only from the last 12 million years. Barry Tomlinson, working with Tracy Magellan and Patrick Griffith, determined that the leaflet anatomy was based on a common but distinctive ground plan, but varied somewhat in this largest and oldest group of cycads.

The study was generously supported by the Kelly Botanical Research Fellows Program, which allowed Barry to work with the living collections at MBC. Barry states: “This work demonstrates the value of the Montgomery collections in basic comparative study, using simple and easily applied techniques.”