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Cycads on display

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It is well known that Bob Tagge was employed for some time at the Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus. A large showcase in the Palm House still reminds us of his groundbreaking work on the cycads, for which he was granted the medal of honour of the Boerhaave Museum in 1988, given to him by then director Maria Roosenboom.

Cycads are an ancient group of plants. The first arose about 240 million years ago, before the heydays of the dinosaurs. For a long time Cycads determined the image of the earth. Around 65 million years ago, in the Cretaceous period, the number of species declined. Today there are about 280 species, the rest is extinct. Cycads grow in tropical and subtropical regions, especially in Central America, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia. The natural populations usually occur at unfavorable sites, making them particularly sensitive to disturbance. The slow growth and low reproductive make cycads vulnerable. Many species are therefore rare.

Precisely that wonderful preference the Cycadee shows to shoot only root on unfavorable habitats, kept fascinating Bob Tagge whole his life. Were 240 million years ago, all locations unfavorable as well? Or did they adopt other strategies. Is the Cycadee since then been supplanted by plant species that have managed to maintain at convenient places? Is there a link between "benevolence" and the inflorescence and leaf shape of a specific location?