This is a special native plant, an attractive species found in many habitats including the pine rocklands of South Florida. Attractive and easy to grow, it is becoming a popular garden plant.
The coontie is the host plant of the endangered atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala). If you look closely, you can often see red atala caterpillars feeding on its leaves. Atalas are small, black and red butterflies with iridescent blue spots on their wings.
The only cycad native to the United States, the coontie is part of an ancient group of plants that existed long before dinosaurs. Cycads bear pollen and seeds in cones, somewhat like modern pine trees.