Cycadales Encephalartos ferox
Encephalartos ferox CC BY 2.0 Wendy Cutler/

Scientific Name: Cycadales

Status: Extant (alive today)

Oldest fossil anywhere: Carboniferous of Kansas (about 300 million years old)

Oklahoma fossil record: Macrofossils have been found in Oklahoma rocks deposited during the Permian Period.

Cycads are seed plants that have large leaves made up of smaller leaflets. Cycads may have short, stout trunks or tall trunks that may reach 60 feet (18 meters) tall. Like conifers, cycads bear large seed cones on female plants (see image) and smaller pollen cones on separate male plants.

Cycads often look like palms (which are flowering plants and not closely related). Several cycad species are even called “Sago Palms” although a true Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu) exists and is a flowering plant.