The primary toxins in the Zamia species are the glycosides cycasin and macrozamin, found in all parts of the plant but especially in the seeds. The glycosides are hydrolyzed by bacterial enzymes in the digestive tract of animals consuming the plant or its seeds to produce the toxins, which cause severe hepatic necrosis. The toxins are also carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic. Similar toxins are found in the fruits of the Cycas and Macrozamia species.
A second toxin, an amino acid beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine, is found predominantly in the seeds and causes neurologic lesions similar to other neuro-lathyrogens involving neuroreceptors. Prolonged consumption of the Cycas seeds or flour made from the seeds is necessary to induce neurologic signs and lesions.
Consisting of 60 species, Zamia is a varied genus of the cycad family found in Florida, Caribbean area and tropical South America. There is one species that is native to the Sates of Florida and Georgia, Zamia integrifolia L.f. (Z. floridana)
Similar genera are Ceratozamia, Cycas, Dioon, and Macrozamia.
Zamia integrifolia is a perennial herb growing from an underground, branching stem, with 4-10 erect leaves up to 4 feet (1.5 m) in length, with up to 80 dark green, glossy, stiff, linear leaflets. The male pollen cones are narrowly cylindrical, while the female seed cones are ovoid, both being a rusty brown color. The seeds are bright orange to red in color and are exposed when the fruit is ripe.
Dogs typically vomit and may continue doing so for several hours. Excessive salivation, and increased thirst are often noticeable. During the next few days anorexia, depression, diarrhea or constipation, and icterus develop. . The prognosis is guarded to poor once evidence of hepatic necrosis develops.
Neurological signs are more common in people and livestock who have consumed plants of the Cycadales over a prolonged period. Neurologic signs include weakness, loss of proprioception, staggering gait, and incoordination.
Serum bilirubin, liver enzymes, blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels become elevated.