Today there are 300 or so species of cycads, but they have the highest extinction risk of all plants according to the IUCN Red List. That is very alarming!
Here are a couple of news stories about the dwindling numbers of cycads :
- the effect of cycad poaching in South Africa
- the loneliest plant in the world, describing a species known only from the male plants
Another reason cycads are so fascinating is that they existed alongside the dinosaurs, so they are called "living fossils". But, my research has revealed that almost all living species arose relatively recently, that is in the last 12 million years. That's 53 million years after the dinosaurs died out.
(It's worth noting though that there were cycads during dinosaur times, it’s just that they are the ancestors to today's species.)