There are fewer varieties of Cycad than Palm, since only 118 varieties are known to exist. The cycad belongs to the cycadaceous plant family, which is prehistoric in origin, dating back more than 100 million years. All varieties are now scarce and are threatened with extinction.In the Satake conservatory, there are several rare cycads.
In 1992, Satake donated 40 cycad plants to Hiroshima University, who have also established a conservatory. Those cycads are already being used as valuable subject for study. Cycads are helpful for the study of genes.
It is the rarest cycad variety in the world, having declined as a result of being consumed as a food. Only three examples are known to survive. One is in South Africa, its country of origin, and the others are in England and in this conservatory in Japan. Unfortunately all three plants are male, since the female stock is already extinct. It is hoped that that bio and genetic engineering will enable its revival by creating a new Encephalartos Woodii.
It is native only to Mexico, where a few examples survive. It is second in the top ten of world plants threatened with extinction. In 1996, male and female stocks donated to Hiroshima University put forth buds. The local newspaper splashed news of this important and significant event on the cover page.
This variety survives only in Cuba, where it is another variety threatened with extinction. Toshihiko Satake was very anxious to obtain a specimen of this rare cycad. When he donated a rice milling machine to the Cuban government, President Castro asked him what souvenir he would like. He immediately replied "a Microcycas". As a result, ten microcycas are now planted in the centre of the conservatory, where the delicate shade of green of the buds give us a feeling of tenderness. The buds sprout from May to July. Ten Microcycas are planted in the center of conservatory, the delicate shade of green of bud of Microcycas gives us of feeling of tenderness. The bud sprouts from May to July.