In search of the worlds most ancient living plants.
Jurassic Garden at A&A Cycads
~ A step back into time ~
The Jurassic period was a time of great humidity, with warm tropical greenhouse conditions. Well before flowering plants populated Earth over some 200 million years ago, the gymnosperms (non-flowering plants) had evolved and grew to enormous heights before some species became extinct with the ice age. Some of these great prehistoric gymnosperms survived and still exist today such as: Pine, Podocarpus, Ginkgos and over 250 described species of Cycads found around the tropics and non-tropical countries such as: Africa, Japan, China, Mexico and the United States, including right here in Southern California. However, the only native Cycad in the United States is the Zamia floridana which is found in Florida and both southern Alabama and Georgia.
When you are in search of these rare prehistoric plants, you need not look any farther than Jurassic Garden at A&A Cycads, as great a discovery as the ancient dinosaur fossils themselves. This sprawling enclave, nestled in North Hollywood, California located at (NEW ADDRESS--11225 Canoga Avenue, Chatsworth, CA 91311 (818) 655-0230)
is a place that you can walk among gardens and greenhouses of Cycads, Dioons (a Cycad relative) and tree ferns. The nursery is secluded behind tall hedges and promises to offer something for everyone who is intrigued with these amazing plant specimens. Once you enter the compound you are immersed in a prehistoric garden of Cycads, including Sago Palms which are actually a species of Cycad and not Palm, as the generic name may lead you to believe. The textures and colors of the cycads are varied so make sure you take notice of their extreme leaf armament. You will wonder how anything, including the dinosaurs, could possibly have eaten them. I once had to trim a private collection of Cycads at a garden estate and forgot my gloves and long sleeve shirt and it turned out to be a day of “free acupuncture.” So, after purchasing, plant with care!
The greenhouses are climatically controlled for optimum growing conditions and for germinating seedlings. Make sure that you get to see the seed greenhouse if it is open on your visit, it is very impressive! Jurassic Garden at A&A Cycads is owned by Maurice Levin who collects, propagates and sells these rare and endangered Cycads to collectors, landscape designers, and nurserymen. Maurice says, “That by planting Cycads into the Southern California landscape we are preserving and extending the lineage of these amazing fossil plants”. They are open by appointment only and you may either call (818) 759-0600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out their website at www.cycads.com for growing tips, special events, sales, and plant species availability.
Pictured below - Cycads in the garden at A&A Cycads.
Photo credit: Mike Brown