Coontie

This plant with the somewhat fern-like leaves is actually a cycad, a type of gymnosperm. It is found in well-drained forests in Florida and the West Indies. The scientific name is Zamia floridana or Z. integrifolia depending on the source you consult.

The common name Coontie is derived from a Native American name for the plant. The starchy subterranean stem was an important food source for indigenous people and later was commercially exploited as Florida arrowroot starch in the early part of the 20th century.

Coonties have separate male and female plants. The female plants produce a single seed cone 5 or 6 inches long . 
In the photo above, the orange seeds at the base of the plant have fallen to the ground after the seed cone matured and fell apart. Male plants bear 2-5 smaller pollen cones.

The larvae of the rare Atala butterfly feed solely on coontie leaves and prefer young growth such as these appearing after a fire in Everglades National Park.
You can check out more plant images from around the world at the Today’s Flowers site.
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