Michael Calonje and his colleagues have described two new species of Zamia in Belize, and worked to clarify another species. Three new research papers appeared in the current issue of Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, which has generously made these works available on BRIT website.

Michael Calonje and Jan Meerman with ZamiaMichael was alerted to an interesting cliff-dwelling Zamia species by Jan Meerman, a well-known Belizean ecologist, last year. Since Jan’s careful fieldwork first discovered this new cycad, Michael honored Janby naming this species Zamia meermanii.

Another new description names a cycad which has been very little studied. Zamia decumbens is a critically endangered species with a very unique ecology, growing only at the bottom of sinkholes or on rocky mountain tops. In recent years, these plants have mistakenly been called Z. prasina in horticulture and botany.

So, then, what is Zamia prasina? Collaborative research by Michael and Jan determined that Zamia prasina is actually the correct name for a  widespread, common cycad species known from Belize, Guatemala, and the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.

MBC is especially grateful for a conservation grant by the Association of Zoological Horticulture. This grant funded the conservation fieldwork which led to these discoveries.