Loran Whitelock

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Loran M. Whitelock (April 21, 1930 - May 27, 2014) was an American botanist who specialized in Cycads, a prehistoric plant that once dominated the planet and is now somewhat rare and endangered.[1] He was known as a plant collector, plant curator, nursery owner, author, and conservationist.[2][3][4][5] He was instrumental in promoting cycads as a garden feature in Southern California through his nursery and other contributions. Several plants were named in his honor including Encephalartos whitelockii and Ceratozamia whitelockiana.

Cycad Gardens[edit]

He created, owned, managed, curated for, and grew plants for Cycad Gardens. Cycad Gardens is a botanical garden and nursery located on about an acre of land in back of his home in Eagle Rock, CA.[4] It contains one of the most extensive collections of Cycads in the world, and is noted for its importance to conservation efforts.[4] It was described by the Los Angeles Times as “monumental and weird… walking through it is like traveling back in time to Jurassic days”.[4]


He published extensively on Cycads and wrote “The Cycads”, a standard reference on the subject and described by the Miami Harald as “encyclopedic”.[6] Cycad Gardens was started in 1972.[7]

Education and career[edit]

Whitelock earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology, studying in botany, zoology, and microbiology. He worked for the Los Angeles City and County Health Departments then became a landscape designer in Los Angeles.[7]

Expeditions and conservationism[edit]

Whitelock was known for his extensive travels to remote locations in search of cycads, and for his conservation efforts, described by the Los Angeles Times as “a local legend”.[3][7] Whitelock was a frequent commentator on theft of valuable rare and endangered plants from the wild, and of very valuable specimens from private collections.[8][9][10]


  1. ^ "In memory of Loran Whitelock". Arizona Cycad. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  2. ^ The Cone Heads, New York Times, 8-17-2003
  3. ^ a b A Jurassic Park of their Own; Ancient cycads attract a subculture of collectors devoted to the quirky plants, Jeff Spurrier, Los Angeles Times, 3-22-2007, [1]
  4. ^ a b c d The Plants that Time Forgot, Susan Heeger, , Los Angeles Times Magazine, 4-11-1993, [2]
  5. ^ Coffee Grower Found Cycad in Rain Forest, Miami Herald, 1-13-2008
  6. ^ Slow Growing Cycad requires little care, Miami Herald, 9-12-2004
  7. ^ a b c Loran M. Whitelock, Timber Press Author Profile
  8. ^ Crooks, Collectors, Preying on a Plant, Miami Herald, 11-23-2004
  9. ^ Smugglers of Rare Plants Weeded Out, San Diego Union Tribune, 8-20-2001
  10. ^ Mystery of the Missing Cycads Disclosed, Miami Herald, 9-10-2002

Further reading[edit]

The Cycads by M. Loran Whitelock