Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

Tough survivor with a primeval look

A beautiful stylised shape combined with a spotless reputation: Zamioculcas zamiifolia or ZZ plant leads the field when it comes to ‘design by nature’. 

Colours and shapes  

Green, beautiful and virtually indestructible: ZZ plant is first and foremost a fabulous work of nature. This green personality has sturdy, noticeably regular leathery leaves that grow on branches that look a bit like feathers. Despite the sturdy stems, ZZ plant is still classified as herbaceous. Its hardiness is not due to having wood and getting thicker or heavier, it is in fact because of the special veins that store water and nutrients, making it one of the easiest houseplants ever! Light, dark, forgetting to water it  - ZZ plants will soldier on regardless, and will remain dutifully green and beautiful without any complaints. If you want more than something green that just stands around, it’s worth investing in your relationship a bit. ZZ plant is not a rapid grower, but that makes a new shoot all the more of a triumph. 


Zamioculcas zamiifolia originates from Tanzania, particularly Zanzibar, but it grows right across central Africa and the east coast. The plant’s natural environment consists of rocky soil in lowlands or the foothills of highlands. It is accustomed to long periods of very dry weather alternating with torrential downpours. During a shower the plant rapidly stores water in its reservoirs in order to be able to draw upon it for weeks if not months. Although ZZ plant has been acknowledged botanically since 1892, it has only been popular as a houseplant for the past 15 years or so. This is thanks to Dutch growers who took up the challenge of cultivating it in 1996. 


The meaning of the name Zamioculcas is hard to trace. Culcas is an old name for another genus, Colocasia. The species zamiifolia has leaves that resemble Zamia ferns, and the feathered leaves are characteristic of both plants. It has therefore ended up as a mixture of the two. Zamioculcas is a stoic type: it does not shed, does not grow rapidly and is the embodiment of stability. That Zen-like air means that the plant can provide a helpful focus for meditations, but it’s also known as the ‘green stoner’ amongst students.