According to Dr André Cilliers, marketing manager of Nulandis (AECI Plant Health), cycads are considered ancient. After many years, cycads might develop a stem, resulting in a similar appearance to palms. However, ancient cycads are quite different from palms in so many ways. Cycads are therefore not related to or like palms at all.
Cycads are considered ancient for several reasons. Firstly, they have been detected in fossil records dating back several millions of years. Secondly, the characteristic of being dioecious is a primitive one, unlike higher plants that are self-pollinating. This is considered to be a more advanced trait of more recent plants since more recent monoecious plants can reproduce fertile seed on its own. In other words, cycads require both sexes to generate a seed that can be propagated. Another example of such a plant is Ginkgo biloba, a fossil tree that was discovered alive and well in the deepest forests in China.
For more in-depth insights into the wonderful world of cycads, be sure to read Dr Cilliers’ informative article entitled, Introduction to Cycads – Ancient relics from the Dinosaur Age