Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- SPECIMEN BASED RECORD. Published protolog data. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/9990002
- Molina Rosito, A. 1975. Enumeración de las plantas de Honduras. Ceiba 19(1): 1–118. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/866
- Breedlove, D. E. 1986. Flora de Chiapas. Listados Floríst. México 4: i–v, 1–246. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/513
- Vovides, A. P., J. D. Rees & M. Vázquez-Torres. 1983. Zamiaceae. Fl. Veracruz 26: 1–31. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/37504
Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2003Near Threatened(IUCN 2003)
- 1997Rare(Walter and Gillett 1998)
Two subspecies are known
- Dioon edule subsp. angustifolium
- Dioon edule subsp. edule
Dioon Edule var. Edule
Dioon edule var. edule belongs to the Zamiaceae family within the order Cycadales. It is commonly called the Chestnut Dioon and is endemic to the eastern coast of Mexico. Cycads are among the oldest seed plants and even pre-date the dinosaurs (The United States Botanical Garden). D. edule was originally described by John Lindley in 1843. There are currently two subspecies known: D. edule subsp. edule and D. edule subsp. ausgustifolium.
Dioon edule is easily recognized from other Dioon species because it lacks spines on the borders of leaflets. Spines are present on juvenile leaves, however, they are lost when the plant matures. D. edule has a crown of pinnate leaves which measure around 135 cm along. Lateral budding is present and mucilage, or sap, is excreted from any cut surfaces on the plant body. The plant has a large central medulla and a single vascular bundle containing the xylem, phloem and cambium. Since the organism is slow growing and xerophilous, only a small conduction channel is needed, unlike other plants. Stomata are also present to aid in transpiration and assimilation and are associated with sporophylls. D. edule has three or four large adventitious roots surrounded by many smaller ones which harbor small nodules containing tannins. Roots are composed of large amounts of corky secondary tissue made by phellogen. It is often very difficult to tell males and females apart from one another until they develop a cone. Cones generally do not show a visual difference; however, cone intervals can be used to determine the sex of the plant. Females usually have a much longer cone interval than males, typically 10–52 years as compared to 2.8-8.8 years.
Dioon edule is endemic to the eastern coast of Mexico. It is commonly found distributed throughout the Sierra Madre Oriental from Veracruz to the Nuevo Leon. It commonly resides in tropical deciduous thorn forests and oak woodlands. They are usually found at an altitude of 500-1000 feet in harsh areas including exposed, shallow soils. Most of the areas in which D. edule resides are subjected to very dry climates and frequent brushfires which impact their survival and distribution.
Ecology and Distribution
Disturbances alter the population dynamics of Dioon edule populations. If a population is heavily dominated by adult plants, the disturbance will be minimal as compared to the population consisting of younger plants. This is due to their ability to survive harsh conditions. D. edule exemplifies a Type III survivorship curve and clumped distributions. It is found mostly on shallow, rocky soils due to competition with other, faster growing species for water, nutrients and seed dispersal. In response, they have developed a selective advantage for growing in these harsh climates including vigorous tap roots for anchorage and water conduction. Furthermore, it is harder for rodents to reach the plant and seeds if they are established in difficult locations to reach. In addition to competition, causal agents of D. edule's random, clumped distribution include predation, variations in temperature and precipitation, and measures of seed dispersal.
Death rates among seedlings are considerably high, which is detrimental to a slow growing plant such as the Dioon edule. Seeds must combat harsh, dry climates and frequent bushfires. Most mature plants are heavily armored and able to withstand these fires. Smaller seeds and juvenile plants are not so fortunate. However, the release of nutrients and minerals encourages females to develop cones during the following season. In addition to climate, seeds must also avert rodent predators. This is reasonably unusual because cycad seeds and foliage are poisonous to most mammals, excluding these several species of rodents. Young leaves of D. edule are also eaten by the Eumaeus debora butterfly larvae.
One of the ways in which cycads are identified includes leaflet characteristics, which were not heavily studied when cycads were first identified. With subsequent studies, it was found that leaflet width was related to geographic dispersal. Wider leaves typical of Dioon edule subsp. edule are found in the south whereas the narrower leaves of D. edule subsp. augustifolium are found to the north. Evidence suggests D. edule susbp. edule was much more widespread than it is today and became fragmented thus allowing for genetic isolation. It is also speculated that the narrower leaves are endemic in the northern subspecies due to less temperate and humid environmental conditions in these areas.
In addition, endomycorrhizae are present in roots and allow for increased absorption of nutrients and water. Symbiotic blue-green algae are also found in the coralloid roots. They assist the plant by fixing nitrogen thus giving the plant essential nutrients in exchange for protection. Cycads in general have significant roles in the nitrogen budget of their respective ecosystems.
Both subspecies of Dioon edule are on the verge of becoming endangered species. They are threatened by human-caused habitat destruction and collection for horticultural and medicinal purposes. Bouncing back from these disturbances is extremely difficult for slow growing plants such as D. edule. The United States Botanical Garden suggests that plant material should be conserved, seed banks should be established and legislation regarding trading cycads and protection of their habitats should be implemented and enforced (The United States Botanical Garden).
- Stevenson, D. W., R. Osborne & J. Hendricks. A world list of cycads Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 57: 200-206 (1990)
- The Cycad Pages: Dioon edule
- Dioon edule original description by J. Lindley (1843).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Dioon edule|
- Donaldson (2003). Dioon edule. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.
- Compton , R. H, and F. W. South . "Notes From the Cambridge Botany School on the Anatomy of the Dioon Edule Lindle.." New Phytologist 7(1908): 222-229.
- de Luca, Paolo, Sergio Sabato, and Mario Vasquez. "Distribution and Variation of the Dioon Edule." Brittonia 34(1982): 355-362.
- Octavio-Aguilar, Pablo, Jorge Gonzalez-Astorgas, and Andrew P. Vovides. "Population Dynamics of the Mexican Cycad Dioon Edule Lindl. (Zamiaceae) Life History Stages and Managment Need." Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 157(2008): 381-391.
- "Rare and Endangered Plants." 2008. United States Botanical Garden. 2 May 2009 
- Vovides, Andrew P. "Spatial Distribution, Survival and Fecundity of the Dioon edule (Zamiaceae) in Tropical Deciduous Forests in Velacruz, Mexico with Notes on its Habitat.” The American Journal of Botany 77(1990): !532-1543.
- Whitelock , Loran M. "Variation in the Mexican Cycad Dioon Edule (Zamiaceae)." The Botanical Review 70(240-249): 2009.