Cycads have a rosette of pinnate leaves around a cylindrical trunk

Cycads have a cylindrical trunk which usually does not branch. But, some types of Cycads can branch their trunks, at their adult age. (Eg: Cycas zeylanicais an endemic Cycad found in Sri Lanka, which can branch their trunk.) Leaves grow directly from the trunk, and typically fall when older, leaving a crown of leaves at the top. The leaves grow in a rosetteform, with new foliage emerging from the top and center of the crown. The trunk may be buried, so the leaves appear to be emerging from the ground, so the plant appears to be a basal rosette. The leaves are generally large in proportion to the trunk size, and sometimes even larger than the trunk.

The leaves are pinnate (in the form of bird feathers, pinnae), with a central leaf stalk from which parallel "ribs" emerge from each side of the stalk, perpendicular to it. The leaves are typically either compound (the leaf stalk has leaflets emerging from it as "ribs"), or have edges (margins) so deeply cut (incised) so as to appear compound. Some species have leaves that are bipinnate, which means the leaflets each have their own subleaflets, growing in the same form on the leaflet as the leaflets grow on the stalk of the leaf (self-similar geometry).

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