This cycad contains reddish seed cones with a distinct acuminate tip. The leaves are 60–120 cm (2.0–3.9 ft) long, with 5-30 pairs of leaflets (pinnae). Each leaflet is linear to lanceolate or oblong-obovate, 8–25 cm long and 0.5–2 cm broad, with distinct teeth at the tip. They are often revolute, with prickly petioles. It is similar in many respects to Zamia furfuracea, but with slightly narrower leaflets, and to Zamia integrifolia, which differs in the more commonly entire (untoothed or only slightly so) leaflets. This is a low-growing plant, with trunk that grows to 3–25 cm high and diameter, but is often subterranean. Over time, it forms a multi-branched cluster, with a large, tuberous root system, which is actually an extension of the above-ground stems. Like other cycads, Zamia pumila is dioecious, having male or female plants. The male cones are cylindrical, growing to 3–15 cm long; they are often clustered. The female cones are elongate-ovoid and grow to 6–15 cm long and 4–6 cm in diameter. Pollination is by certain insects, namely the belid weevil Rhopalotria slossoni.