Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2003Least Concern(IUCN 2003)
The stems reach 3 m (rarely 6 m) tall, with a diameter of 5–11 cm. The leaves are (very unusually for a cycad) deciduous in the dry season (though persistent if grown in moister situations), 55–90 cm long, slightly keeled or flat, pinnate with 100-220 leaflets; the leaflets densely orange-pubescent at first, then glossy bright green above, light green below, 5.5–14 cm long and 4.5–8 mm wide, angled forward at 40 degrees. Mature plants have around 50 leaves in the crown.
The female cones open, with 13–22 cm long sporophylls with 2-4 ovules per sporophyll on a lanceolate triangular lamina with an apical spine. The sarcotesta has a yellow coating when ripe. The male cones are ovoid, orange, 11–20 cm long and 7.5–10 cm diameter, with upper half of cone drawn to a point.
The species is named after the plant collector John Francis Armstrong.
Annual grass fires are common in its natural habitats. The species is extremely fire tolerant, and the usually early spring fires initiate a profusion of new leaf growth in the plants, thus the common name, fire fern.
It is one of the most abundant cycads in the world, with a population estimate of over ten million. The conservation status is secure.