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Loran Whitelock’s update to his popular The Cycads comes in two volumes, this second volume covering Africa and the Americas.
There are few plants, with the possible exception of palms, that can rival cycads for variety of foliage, size, and form. In spite of such diversity, however, cycads represent an ancient lineage whose fossil history extends over 200 million years. Indeed, the Jurassic period is known as the Age of Cycads as well as the Age of Dinosaurs. Cycads have been called the reptiles of the plant world because although they have a long history, they continue to exist, though precariously, in remarkable variety with 10 genera and close to 350 species.
Loran M Whitelock has spent decades studying cycads in their natural habitats around the world. These observations, together with those made from his extensive living collection, provide firsthand, reliable information on cycads with special emphasis on their cultivation in a variety of climates as well as their propagation.
Cycads are tough and durable, not only as survivors, but as ornamental plants of great intrinsic interest because of their long history and unique biology. Cycads in habitat are endangered. Through Loran’s efforts, a well-documented program of propagation has made an increasing variety of cycads available to those who wish to grow and know more about these unusual and dramatic plants.