P, Pistillate, s, staminate flowers; h, sterile flowers forming a circlet of stiff hairs closing the mouth of the chamber formed by the lower part of the spathe.
1), which are on one tree male (staminate) only, on another female (pistillate).
The plant is monoecious, producing the staminate (male) flowers in a large feathery panicle at the summit, and the (female) dense spikes of flowers, or " cobs," in the axils of the leaves below, the long pink styles hanging out like a silken tassel.
The flowers, which appear in early summer, are in pendulous, slender yellowish catkins, which bear a number of staminate flowers with a few pistillate flowers at the base.
The staminate contain 8 to 20 stamens which produce an enormous amount of dusty yellow pollen, some of which gets carried by wind to the protruding stigmas of the pistillate flowers.
It is interesting that no monstrous cycadean cone has been described in which ovuliferous and staminate appendages are borne on the same axis: in the Bennettitales (see Palaeobotany: Mesozoic) flowers were produced bearing on the same axis both androecium and gynoecium.