Dioon edule
Common Name: cycad 
Type: Palm or Cycad
Family: Zamiaceae
Native Range: Mexico
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 (possible Zone 8 with protection) where it is best grown in moist, humusy, gritty, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants tolerate nutrient-poor soils, but perform best with fertilization. Established plants have drought tolerance. Where not winter hardy, plants are best grown in greenhouses. Propagate by offsets or seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dioon edule, commonly called chestnut dioon or virgin's palm, is a slow-growing, palm-like, evergreen cycad that is native to deciduous oak forests and dry rocky slopes in eastern Mexico. It typically grows to as much as 6-8' tall with a short stocky trunk (to 6-12" diameter) from which large pinnate leaves radiate outward to 3-6' long. Each leaf has up to 120-160 sharp-tipped, lance-shaped, linear leaflets (each leaflet to 5" long). Leaf color is gray-green to blue-green. Youngest leaflets have teeth at the tips, but mature leaflets lack teeth. Plants are dioecious gymnosperms which produce cylindrical male cones and oval female cones. Female cones (to 12" ) are infrequently produced in cultivation. Seeds are edible if cooked.

Genus name comes from the Greek words dis meaning twice and oon meaning an egg with reference to the paired seeds.

Specific epityhet from Latin means edible.


No serious insect or disease problems. Cycad aulacaspis scale. Caterpillars may chew on the foliage.


Landscape or garden accent in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Large tubs or containers.