Zamioculcas zamiifolia: ZZ plant

Family: Araceae
Common name: ZZ plant, Zanzibar gem, Zuzu plant, Aroid palm, Eternity plant, Emerald palm

If you are looking for a sturdy, low-maintenance plant for your coffee table or work desk, ZZ plant is the ideal solution. These plants are evergreen and glossy, and looks like fake plants. They can grow to a height of 40-60 cms with long thick, dark green stems, and glossy green leaves.

Leaves are pinnate, about 40-50 cms long with 8-12 pairs of alternately arranged leaflets, each about 10-15 cms long. ZZ plant roots have thickened, tuberous rhizomes that store water, making the plant extremely tolerant of drought or underwatering. In fact, the plant will thrive even if they are forgotten for many days.

Though it’s not very common, ZZ plants produce small flowers which are yellow or brown spadices, enveloped in green spathes They grow near the base of the plant, and are usually hidden among the leaves. These plants need very little sunlight. In fact, harsh sunlight can cause browning and curling of leaves.

These plants can grow in partial shade or very little sunlight, making them ideal indoor plants. In case of indoor plants, watering can be reduced to once in 10-20 days. Too much water can cause the rhizome to rot and the plant to wither. Since ZZ plants grow very slowly, they don’t need frequent fertilization. All these factor combine to make this plant an amateur gardener’s dream plant.

ZZ plants are used in traditional herbal medicine to treat earache, ulcers and inflammations. These plants are very popular ornamental plants, featured in interior decoration and landscape magazines. Even cut stems can survive in room temperature for a few days making them ideal for flower arrangements.

Leaves are capable of removing indoor toxins like benzene and toluene according to a study by the University of Copenhagen. Belonging to the family Araceae, all part of the plants contain calcium oxalate crystals which can be toxic to children and pets, causing inflammation of tissues in the mouth and nose. So it’s best to keep this plant away from pets and small children.

Propagation is through replanting small plants that grow from the roots of the parent plants, and also through root division. Even a single leaf planted in the soil can produce rhizomes and new plants, though it might take a few months. Stem cuttings can be placed in water for few days to root before they are planted in the soil.