A flowering cycad on our balcony

As a Canadian transplanted to Australia, my wonder at the weird flora and fauna around here is likely to never wear off. Since cycads are subtropical or tropical, I wasn’t familiar with them, nor expected to have them on my balcony, but when we moved into our apartment in early 2011, the previous owners had left a half a dozen of these on the top balcony. The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney tells me that these plants were around even before the dinosaurs, more than 200 million years ago, in the Permian era.

They’re big, sturdy things, and spiky too, so hard to manoeuvre around, and they’ve all lasted, some healthier than others, putting out new leaves, and occasionally shedding an old one. And now, for the first time that we’ve seen, one has put out a flower! And what a strange flower it is. Check it out (the lower left corner shows one of the other cycads, not flowering, for comparison).

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