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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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Bowenia Fern

Photo: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey
BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide

'Bowenia fern' (Bowenia spectabilis)

  • Although sometimes referred as a fern it is actually a cycad.

  • This is a common plant of the understorey in Australian tropical rainforests in Australia, especially at lower altitudes. It is the more widespread and common of the Bowenia species in the Wet Tropics.

  • Despite the toxicity of cycads, there are reports of the indigenous people eating the roots of these plants (Low 1997).

Bowenia spp.

  • Despite the common name and appearance, these plants are not really a fern, but a cycad.

  • The leaves are very shiny, sometimes appearing almost plastic, with new leaves often curled.

  • Being a cycad, they are highly toxic, for they contain the compound macrozamin (Jones 1998), and are probably one of the most toxic plants in the rainforest.

  • There are three species in the genus Bowenia, and they are all restricted to tropical rainforests or wetter gullies of woodland in eastern Australia (Jones 1998). The genus was named after the first governor of Queensland, George Bowen.

Bowenia spp. 'Tinaroo'

  • This species is found at high altitude in the Tinaroo Hills on the Atherton Tablelands and has slightly toothed margins (Jones 1998).

Script: Courtesy of  Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide


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Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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