Encephalartos caffer

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Figure 1. E. caffer


Common Names:

Caffrarian cycad,
Eastern Cape Dwarf cycad

Distribution & Habitat:

Grassland in Eastern Cape Province, and Transkei, South Africa. it is the southernmost cycad species in South Africa.


This is a small, subterranean-stemmed cycad with long, pinnate, dark green leaves that are up to a metre long. The leaflets are often clustered on the leaf in a plumose fashion giving the plant a distinctively ruffled, feathery appearance. New leaves are brown and woolly at first but most of the hair is lost as they mature, although they never become completely smooth or glossy. Both male and female plants bear a single cone made up of a series of spiralled scales, which become greenish-yellow when mature. on top of each female cone scale, two largish, glossy, scarlet-coloured seeds are formed.


Very rarely seen, but apparently an easy grower. Likes a sunny, well drained position, and can tolerate light frosts.

Figure 2. E. caffer leaf detail.
Figure 3. E. caffer back-of-leaf detail.
Figure 4. E. caffer
Figure 5. E. caffer female cone.
Figure 6. E. caffer
Figure 7. E. caffer female cone.
Figure 8. E. caffer
Figure 9. E. caffer
Figure 10. E. caffer

Contributed by:

Renier Smit (Figure 1-10)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums