Encephalartos cycadifolius

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Figure 1. E. cycadifolius leaf detail.


Common Names:

Winterberg cycad

Distribution & Habitat:

It is found only in the Winterberg Mountains in the eastern Cape Province. It grows in shallow soils over shale mountain slopes, among rocks in full sun on the northern and eastern slopes at altitudes of up to 1,800 m.


A small to medium sized clumping cycad to about 1.5m (5 feet) tall (but usually much less), and a diameter of about 25cm (1 foot). It can form clusters of up to 10 stems.

It has dull blue-green leaves from between 60cm to 1m long (2-3 feet), with the petioles being bare for the first 10cm to 20cm (5-10 ins). The leaf stalk is usually slightly spiraled, which gives the leaf a characteristic twist. The young leaves are covered in a fine white wool but this is lost with age. The dead leaf stalks remain on the plant for several months and hang around the stem.

Similar in appearance to both E. ghellinckii and E. friderici-guilielmi


Require a well drained position in full sun. Frost tolerant. Seed is easy to germinate, but the plants are very slow growing.

Figure 2. E. cycadifolius in habitat, Winterberg Cape, South Africa.
Figure 3. E. cycadifolius.
Figure 4. E. cycadifolius showing the old leaf stalks.
Figure 5. E. cycadifolius showing the wooly covering.

Contributed by:

Renier Smit (Figure 1-5)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums