Common Names: coontie, arrowroot, compties, Seminole bread, comfort
Family: Zamiaceae (coontie Family)
Palm Perennial Drought Tolerant Easy to grow - great for beginners!
Tolerant of Shade and Low Light Conditions Can be Grown in
Containers Has Ornamental (non-edible) Fruit Has evergreen foliage
Has Unusual or Interesting Foliage
This ancient clump of coonti is a colony composed of dozens of stems
packed closely together.
Coontie is a small palmlike perennial plant that grows to a height
of about 3 ft (0.9 m). Coontie forms a colony of suckers that slowly
grow into mounds 5-6 ft (1.5-2.1 m) wide. The glossy dark green
pinnate leaves are 3 ft (0.9 m) long with narrow pinnae (leaflets)
4-6 in (10.2-1.8 cm) long by 0.25 in ( cm) wide. This species is
dioecious, having male or female reproductive parts (called "cones")
present on separate plants. In late winter the rusty-brown male and
female cones emerge from the ground. Males produce pollen that
fertilizes the female cones that mature in autumn when the shiny red
seeds are released.
Its evergreen leaves are fine in texture and resemble those of a
fern. They are produced from a thick underground storage root in one
or more flushes each year. This cycad has a much softer appearance
and is without the sharp edges of some of the other popular cycads
used in the landscape such as Cycas revoluta.
Coontie will tolerate some salt drift from the sea and can be
planted near, but not directly on the beach. The coontie is
susceptable to potentially lethal infestations of scale insects that
require treatment with pesticide. Light: Full sun or dense shade.
Moisture: Water when dry.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8-10.
Propagation: Propagated from seeds but young plants grow slowly. You
will probably prefer buying potted plants which are readily
available from nursery or garden centers throughout Florida and in
Coontie is perfect for woodland and shady gardens where it provides
rich evergreen backdrop for flowering species all year long. It
works well as a transition plant near larger specimens. Creates a
tropical affect when planted by the trunks of pine trees in woodland
settings. Coontie is perfect for xeriscapes and as a low maintenance
ground cover. The coontie is one of the best ground covers as it
evergreen and actually "consumes" trash which sifts down beneath its
arching leaves where it is hidden from view to decompose, rust or
otherwise degrade inoffensively.
The coontie is very happy growing in pots, urns and containers
both indoors and out. It is a popular species for bonsai where it is
grown in sand, often with its fleshy underground storage root
In recent years the native coontie has become a favorite
groundcover that is so tough and reliable it is is often planted on
traffic islands like this one in Seminole County, Florida.
This is a rugged but subtle accent plant that boasts a deep green
color and unique form. Although a slow grower, coontie is very
tough, drought resistant and easy to maintain. It is difficult to
transplant coontie due to its long tap roots and the operation is
rarely successful. Do not remove plants from the wild.
Florida's indigenous peoples and later European settlers
processed the coontie's large storage root to extract an edible
starch. For this reason the coontie was often commonly called
Seminole bread during the late 1800s.
Zamia floridana is an older name for this species so you may see
coontie referred to by this synonym in some publications. The
coontie has a larger and more tender relative called the cardboard
palm (Zamia furfuracea).