How To Grow Cardboard Palm Tree (Zamia furfuracea)

Cardboard Palm Tree (Zamia furfuracea)
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Flickr.

The Cardboard Palm Tree, scientific name Zamia furfuracea, is a shrubby looking plant that is usually used indoors as a houseplant or outdoors underneath large palm trees.  Zamia furfuracea is not real palm but rather a cycad, like Sago Palm.

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Quick Facts:

Scientific name:Zamia furfuracea
Common names:Cardboard Palm, Cardboard Plant, Cardboard Sago, Cardboard Cycad, Jamaican Sago, and Mexican Cycad.
Origin:Native to Mexico.
Growth Rate:Slow. Up to 5-10 ft tall and 1-5 ft wide.
Cold Tolerance:USDA Zones 9a (20 to 25 F) to 11 (above 40 F)
Light Req:Partial shade to full sun.
Water Req:Drought tolerant.
Soil Req:Well drained sandy soil.
Fruit:Yes. Not edible. Toxic for pets.
Propagation:Propagated by seeds.

Cardboard Palm Identifying Characteristics

Zamia furfuracea has a short think fleshy trunk covered with old leaf bases. Trunk collects water that is used during drought. The Cardboard Palm has pinnate, feathery-like, leaves which grow from the center of the trunk reaching 3-4ft long.

Leaves are olive green, overlapping, with a fuzzy surface that looks like they are made of plastic. They feel like cardboard to the touch, hence the name Cardboard Palm.

The circular crowns of leaves looks like a cross between fern and palm tree. They form a symmetrical rosette growing upright in full sun and horizontal in shade. Thick leaves are covered with thick oval leaflets which are about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide.

Cardboard Palm Flowers and Fruits

flower of Cardboard Palm Tree (Zamia furfuracea)
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Flickr.

The Cardboard Palm has male and female reproductive system on separate plants. It produces interesting shaped cones, egg-shaped on the female plant and long oval-shaped on the male.

When ripe, the female cone breaks to reveal bright red seeds, about 1 inch long. This fruit is not eatable and is known to be toxic to dogs and cats.

How To Care For Cardboard Palm

Younger palm grows at a slower rate but accelerates after forming a trunk. The Cardboard Palm grows in clumps and can get up to 5-10ft tall and 1-5 ft wide.

The Cardboard Palm Tree is a very popular house plant, because it is very easy to grow and maintain. If you want to grow it indoors, make sure it gets as much light as possible during its growing periods that happened once or twice a year, usually from March to June.

It can be considered cold hardy because it is known to handle temperatures down to 20F but does gets leaf damage at around 28F. It is great for USDA Zones 9a (20 to 25 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

It can also tolerate drought and doesn’t require a lot of water. The Cardboard Palm likes moist well drained soil. When you water, the water gets stored in the trunk of the Cardboard Palm and is used in times of drought. To avoid root rot, don’t let it sit in the water.

To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season.

Propagated by seeds.

Cardboard Palm Pictures

Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Flickr.
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Cardboard Palm Tree (Zamia furfuracea) flowers
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Flickr.
Cardboard Palm Tree (Zamia furfuracea)
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Flickr.
Cardboard Palm Tree (Zamia furfuracea)
Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). Photo by Flickr.

More information can be found on Floridata site.

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