Cycads are a group of plants found throughout many of the tropical and subtropical parts of the world. They are often called ‘living fossils’ due to their long history and much greater dominance on the landscape in the past. Evolving almost 300 million years ago, cycads are much older than the flowering plants which dominate much of the world today (by comparison the first flowering plants arrived about 160 million years ago). Cycads are gymnosperms, characterized by having unfertilized seeds which are open to the air, and so are cousins of conifers and the gingko tree. Only about 350 species of cycads occur in the world today.

Our Cycad Garden is located at the Tiverton entrance. Several large Cycas specimens can be seen here. Cycas revoluta, one of the most widely cultivated cycads, hails from southern Japan and is the northernmost naturally occurring cycad. Another highlight of the cycad garden is the unusual Natal grass cycad (Strangeria eriopus), a southern African species.