Lotusland’s collection of cycads is thought to be the most complete in any American public garden, with over 450 specimens, nine of the eleven living genera and more than half of the known species represented.
The term cycad is used to designate a group of unusual cone-bearing plants that were common during the time of the dinosaurs. Most species are endangered and some are extinct in the wild. The most commonly known cycad is the sago palm (Cycas revoluta).
The cycad garden was the last garden created by Madame Walska. Three Encephalartos woodii, among the world’s rarest cycads and extinct in the wild, are placed on a rocky cliff above their own koi pond.
The Cycad Garden has been called a “million dollar garden” because its development coincided with the auction of Madame Walska’s enormous jewelry collection, which fetched nearly that amount. It was created in a neglected area that had been early owner Kinton Stevens’ grain field.