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Zamia pumila is a primitive fern-like plant, almost completely underground. It produces a crown of stiff, evergreen leaves up to 3 feet long and brown, fleshy, female or seed-bearing cones that are 6-8 inches long. This species is a part of the order Cycadales. Cycads could have been found 200-65 million years ago.

There is some debate on when present-day cycads, like Zamia pumila, first appeared. According to a new study by University of California, Berkeley scientists and their international team, shows that "the surviving cycad species are actually not relics of the dinosaur era, but the result of an evolutionary explosion among cycads that began about 12 million years ago."