The Herbarium of Endangerment: Cycas riuminiana

By Dr. Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez, Liz Orton

Jun 30 2022

Cycads carry significance as “living fossils,” existing in a way that is aesthetically similar to its fossilized ancestors. In the Philippines, cycads’ large seeds and fronds  can be used for ornamentation, toys, or religious activities. One of Cycas riuminiana’s names, “Arayat pitogo,” is a combination of the name Arayat, associated with the deific volcano, Mt. Arayat, in the province of Pampanga, while pitogo can refer generally to multiple cycad species growing throughout the islands. Some cycad species stand to be completely wiped out by one ecologically disastrous event or human-mediated development or mining project. The various names for the C. riuminiana in the Philippines point to the linguistic variability on the islands, with each name–such as oliva, tamok, bayou, and sawang–bearing meaning for particular ethnolinguistic groups.