Of 100 or so species, only the following two are generally seen. They are slow growing and costly, but with good care will last for many years, both indoors and out. Short trunks (may be completely or partially beneath soil level) are usually marked with scars from old leaf bases. Trunks are topped with circular crowns of leaves that resemble stiff fern fronds or small palm fronds.
Z. furfuracea. CARDBOARD PALM. From southeastern coastal Mexico. To 3 ft. high, 6 ft. wide. Short, sometimes subterranean stem. Fronds to 3 ft. long, usually much less; have as many as 12 pairs (usually fewer) of extremely stiff, leathery, dark green segments to 412 in. long, 1 12 in. wide. Segments may have a few teeth toward the tip. Best in a fairly sunny spot, but with protection from hottest midday sun.
Z. pumila. COONTIE. From Florida, Cuba, West Indies. To 4 ft. high, 6 ft. wide. Short trunk is largely below soil level. Fronds to 3 ft. long, with as many as 30 pairs of dark green segments to 5 in. long, 114 in. wide. Good seaside plant; tolerates salt spray.
Outdoors, plant in organically enriched, fast-draining soil. Grown as houseplants, they need bright light (with protection from hottest sun), occasional misting, and monthly feeding in spring and summer with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer. Water when soil becomes dry to the touch; reduce watering in winter.