cycad

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cycad

(sī`kăd), any plant of the order Cycadales, tropical and subtropical palmlike evergreens. The cycads, ginkgoesginkgo
or maidenhair tree,
tall, slender, picturesque deciduous tree (Ginkgo biloba) with fan-shaped leaves. The ginkgo is native to E China, where it was revered by Buddhist monks and planted near temples.
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, and conifersconifer
[Lat.,=cone-bearing], tree or shrub of the order Coniferales, e.g., the pine, monkey-puzzle tree, cypress, and sequoia. Most conifers bear cones and most are evergreens, though a few, such as the larch, are deciduous.
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 comprise the three major orders of gymnosperms, or cone-bearing plants (see conecone
or strobilus
, in botany, reproductive organ of the gymnosperms (the conifers, cycads, and ginkgoes). Like the flower in the angiosperms (flowering plants), the cone is actually a highly modified branch; unlike the flower, it does not have sepals or petals.
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 and plantplant,
any organism of the plant kingdom, as opposed to one of the animal kingdom or of the kingdoms Fungi, Protista, or Monera in the five-kingdom system of classification.
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). The cycads first appeared in the Permian period. They are the most primitive of the living seed-bearing plants and in many ways resemble the fernsfern,
any plant of the division Polypodiophyta. Fern species, numbering several thousand, are found throughout the world but are especially abundant in tropical rain forests. The ferns and their relatives (e.g.
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. Some have tuberous underground stems, with the crown of leathery, glossy, fernlike leaves springing from ground level; others have a columnar stem, usually 6 to 10 ft (1.8–3.1 m) high (though the corcho of Cuba reaches 30 ft/9.1 m), and are often mistaken for palms. There are 11 genera composed of less than 150 species, some found in very restricted areas. Many cycads (e.g., the fern palm of the Old World tropics and the nut palm of Australia) bear poisonous nutlike seeds. The pith of the coontie (Zamia floridana) yields a starch called Florida arrowrootarrowroot,
any plant of the genus Maranta, usually large perennial herbs, of the family Marantaceae, found chiefly in warm, swampy forest habitats of the Americas and sometimes cultivated for their ornamental leaves.
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 or sagosago
[Malay], edible starch extracted from the pithlike center of several E Asian palms (chiefly Metroxylon sagu) or sometimes of cycads. The starch is an important item in the diet in some parts of E Asia and is exported for use in foods (e.g.
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; the coontie is often called sago palm. Cycads are grown as ornamentals in warm regions and in greenhouses. The cycads are classified in the division PinophytaPinophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called gymnosperms. The gymnosperms, a group that includes the pine, have stems, roots and leaves, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Cycadopsida.