At Audubon House volunteers relocated giant leather ferns (Acrostichum daeniofolium) to the low areas of the dry retention pond and replaced them with comely coonties (Zamia floridana) graciously donated by Robin Pelensky of Surlaterre Landscape Architecture.
Coonties already are planted at the front of the Audubon House.
Coonties are cycads, the oldest form of seed-bearing plants, here during the dinosaur days. The roots of coonties contain a poison, but aboriginal people knew how to leach this toxic from its roots from which they made flour. Later, from the 1830’s to the 1920’s, coontie was harvested commercially and made into arrowroot flour, until its production was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 1925.
Coonties have made a comeback as a sturdy, drought-tolerant landscape plant. It has long been planted at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in an oasis of concrete and asphalt near the Administration Building door.
Marta (Class of 2004) & Mike Kendrick have used coontie in their landscape photographed at a yard visit by the Eugenia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society with tender, new growth …
… and growing in concert with Jamaica caper (Capparis jamaicensis), simpsons stopper (Myrcinathes fragrans), and blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella) …
Coontie also is in the landscape at Bok Tower Garden, contrasting with silver blue saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and simpsons stopper.