This species is part of a complex of closely related taxa occurring in a mosaic pattern in southern Queensland[
]. Although we have seen no specific information, it is most likely that the other taxa have the same uses as this one[
Encephalartos miquelii F.Meull.
Macrozamia elegantissima W.Bull
Macrozamia mackenzii Mast.
Macrozamia spiralis cylindrica Regel
Macrozamia tridentata cylindrica (W.Bull) J.Schust.
Macrozamia tridentata mackenzii (Mast.) J.Schust.
Macrozamia tridentata milkaui J.Schust.
Macrozamia tridentata miquelii (F.Muell.) J.Schust.
Macrozamia tridentata oblongifolia Regel
Zamia miquelii Regel
Zamia occidentalis Lodd. ex Miq.
Zamia unidentata Miq.
Plant growing in native habitat in Mount Archer National Park, Rockhampton, Queensland.
Photograph by: Ethel Aardvark
Macrozamia miquelii is a slow-growing, evergreen, usually stemless, palm-like shrub producing a rosette of 30 - 80, erect to spreading leaves in the crown, the leaves being 80 - 210cm long[
]. If a stem is formed, then it is generally up to 40cm long and 30 - 40cm in diameter[
]. The stem can be up to 1 metre long[
Although poisonous, the seeds were a traditional food of the Australian Aborigines. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental
A locally abundant species, but its population is decreasing. It is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
The raw seed is toxic and requires treatment prior to eating it[
We have no further specific information for this species, but most if not all members of this genus are believed to contain toxins. The two main toxic compounds that have been identified are cycasin and macrozamin. When ingested in sufficient quantities, these compounds are extremely poisonous to humans and many other animals, and have been shown to cause liver damage and cancer. Cycasin and macrozamin have a cumulative effect upon the body and are suspected of causing neurological disorders when ingested in small amounts over long periods of time.
There is a long history of human use of this genus as a starch-rich food, but it should be noted that the plants needed to be treated in various ways in order to remove any toxic principles. Caution should be exercised even with properly prepared foods, since even then regular consumption may lead to severe health problems and death. Since many of these species are becoming increasingly rare in the wild, this is probably a food best left to times of food shortage when other, better foods, are not available[
Australia - New South Wales, Queensland.
Scattered in sclerophyll forests in poor soils[
]. On ridges and slopes in open forest, along the margins of streams and in and around the fringes of rainforest; at elevations up to 500 metres[
|Other Uses Rating
Macrozamia miquelii is a plant mainly of lowland subtropical climates. It grows in a region where the temperatures are in
the range 22 - 32°c in the summer, and 10 - 24°c in the winter Mean annual rainfall is within the range 900 - 1,350mm[
An easy plant to grow, accepting full sun and partial shade[
]. Requires a well-drained soil[
]. Succeeds in the wild in a wide range of soils and situations, from rich peat to grit; in soils from almost swampy to dry rocks; and in shade as well as full sun[
A slow-growing species[
This is a restricted species in Queensland and, as such, a license is required to harvest, propagate trade or deal with it in any way[
Cycad species can usually be transplanted easily even when quite large. The best time for moving them is just before the beginning of a new growing season, the roots being trimmed if they are damaged and perhaps some leaves being removed. New roots should develop quickly as the season progresses[
Species in this genus form structures known as coralloid roots. These roots branch off from the taproot or secondary roots and are distinctive in that they grow laterally or upward, forming a nodular mass at the apex. These coralloid roots occur slightly below or slightly above the soil surface and generally contain cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. These are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen and make it available as a nutrient to the plant. The ability to extract this important nutrient from the air explains how many cycad species are able to survive on almost sterile soils[
A dioecious species, with individual plants producing either all male or all female cones. Therefore both male and female forms of the plant need to be grown if seed is required[
]. On very rare occasions, usually when a plant has been under severe stress, it can change sex and produce either all female or all male cones[
Seed - cooked[
]. The raw seed is toxic and needs to be treated to make it edible[
]. The Australian Aborigines would do this by several methods - one involved cooking the seed in ashes, another involved soaking the seeds in water for several days, then pounding them[
].The seeds were made fit to eat by a laborious process of cracking, soaking, grinding and baking[
]. Old, shrivelled seeds are said to be edible raw[
]. The seed is around 23 - 35mm long and 18 - 25mm in diameter[
When ripe, the seeds are orange-red in colour and separate freely from the seed cone. They are baked for about half an hour under ashes, the outside covers and stones are then broken, and the kernels are split then put into a dilly-bag and carried to a stream or pond, where they remain six or eight days before they are fit for eating[
The starch contained in the trunk has been processed and used in laundries[
Soft brown hairs are formed on the bases of the young leaves[
]. These have at times been harvested from wild plants and used as a stuffing material in pillows, upholstery etc[
A gum is exuded from the cones, stems and bases of the leaves, often as a result of insect or other damage.
Gums of the various species of Macrozamia are nearly identical in character. It occurs in flattened pieces resembling 'button lac', in scaly pieces that have been likened to unbleached and unpurified gelatin, and in tears. Placed in water, the gum begins to swell almost immediately. The absorption of water goes on for several days, by the end of which the gum has swollen to from 50 - 100 times its original size. It then has the appearance of a colourless, quivering jelly. This behavior is much like that of cherry or acacia gums to which Macrozamia gums are apparently quite similar[
The gum of Macrozamia was suspected once of being responsible for the poisonous effects of these plants but has been exonerated[
Seed - it is easy to germinate from fresh seed, though it might take 2 years to do so[