Cycas sphaerica was first described by Roxburgh (1832). Two Roxburgh collections from the Calcutta gardens is now in the Natural History Museum, London (BM), represent Cycas sphaerica and Cycas rumphii, respectively. The latter is annotated Cycas circinalis and the former bears only the annotation Cycas planifolia Solander MS.
Haines (1924) also described this taxon as a variety closely related to Cycas circinalis. No type was cited, but Haines (1924) stated &isquo;
Wild in the hill forests of the Mals of Puri, especially on the tops of ridges with heavy rainfall ! extending to Angul, in open forest, where it is less common! Fl. July-Aug'. Haines' practise was to add the ! when he had seen the plant in the wild in that locality and does not record the existence of a specimen. In Flora of Srikakulam it was mentioned under the name of Cycas circinalis (Rao and Sreeramulu, 1986).
Cycas sphaerica Roxb., Fl. Ind.: 747 (1832). TYPE: ex hort. Calcutta, Roxburgh s.n., 1808 (lecto (fide Hill 1995) BM). (Ken, 1998-2002).
Stems arborescent: leaves bright green, semiglossy, 150-270 cm long, tomentum
shedding as leaf expands. Petiole 45-60 cm long, glabrous, spinescent for 90%
of length. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines. Median leaflets
simple, weakly discolorous, 20-30 cm long, 0.6-1.2 cm wide; section flat; margins
flat; apex softly acuminate, not spinescent; midrib raised above, flat below.
Cataphylls narrowly triangular, soft, persistent. Pollen cones narrowly ovoid,
orange, 45 cm long, 10 cm diameter; microsporophyll lamina firm, not dorsiventrally
thickened, 3.2-3.8 cm long, apical spine prominent, gradually raised, 1.7 cm
long. Megasporophylls 15-25 cm long, brown-tomentose; ovules 2-5, glabrous;
lamina lanceolate, 38-55 mm long, regularly dentate, with pungent lateral spines
0.5-1 cm long, apical spine distinct from lateral spines, 1.7-2.5 cm long. Seeds
subglobose, 25 mm long; sarcotesta yellow; fibrous layer present; sclerotesta
smooth. Spongy endocarp absent (Fig. 1) (Saxena and Brahmam,
Habit of Cycas sphaerica Roxb.
Arjuna chettu, Naasi chettu (Telugu), Oruguna (Oriya).
Generally it is found in tropical moist deciduous forests and woodlands
It is distributed along the hilly tracts of Eastern Ghats of Northern Andhra
Pradesh and Orissa (Fig. 2). The location of the species found
in two states is given below.
Occasional in Northernmost part of Srikakulam district in deciduous forests
and woodlands of Palakonda, Donubayi, Seetampet areas.
Occasionally found in the woodlands of Gajapati (Mahendragiri hills), Ganjam,
Khurda (Chandaka wildlife sanctuary), Cuttack and Dhenkanal districts; sparse
in moist deciduous forests of Phulbani, Boudh (Khondmals), Nayagarh, Angul,
Keonjhar (Hadgarh), Balasore (Kuldiha) and Mayurbhanj districts (southern part
of Similipal Biosphere Reserve).
|| Location map of Cycas sphaerica in Eastern Ghats of
Spatial Distribution pattern of the species is random and apparently found
in the elevation ranges in between 200 to 1100 m.
Habitat loss, anthropogenic pressure, severe forest fragmentation, presence
of less number of female plants in comparison to male and illegal exploitation
are the major depleting factors for its survival.
The very young leaves are edible. The plant yields a gum. Pith pieces are
used to make sago flour (Reddy et al., 2006). It is often planted
The species has botanical, economic, ornamental and distributional interest.
Poorly known. Red List status: Data Deficient (IUCN, 1994).
Cycas sphaerica Roxb. is closely resembles to Cycas circinalis
L. and can be distinguished based on following characters (Table
||Distinguishing characters of two Cycas species
Authors are thankful to Dr. P.S. Roy, Deputy Director, NRSA, Head, Forestry and Ecology Division, NRSA, Hyderabad, Sri G. Ganga Raju, Chairman, Laila Impex, Vijayawada and Dr. M. Brahmam, Regional Research Laboratory (CSIR), Bhubaneswar for their encouragement and valuable suggestions.