Encephalartos hirsutus

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Figure 1. Young plant of E. hirsutus.


Common Names:

Critically Endangered, possibly extinct in the wild.

Common Names:

Venda cycad

Distribution & Habitat:

This species was known from three separate localities in the Soutpansberg region of the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Plants grew on exposed south-east-facing quartzite cliffs, in moist semi-deciduous mixed scrub from between 800 to 1,000m asl. The vegetation type is mainly Mountain Bushveld. The rainfall is between 350-650 mm per year.


This is a medium to large cycad with stems up to 4m (13 feet) long, and rigid, glaucous, bluish-silver leaves to 140cm (4.5 feet) long. The stems usually lie along the ground and terminate in a dense crown of leaves. The new leaves are covered in dense hairs, which weather quite slowly compared to other cycads, hence the name hirsutus, which means "hairy".


Only described in 1996 by South African horticulturist P.J.H. Hurter, it belongs to a group of blue-leaved Transvaal cycads (E. dolomiticus, E. eugene-maraisii, E. dyerianus and E. middelbergensis).


Likes a sunny, well drained position.

Figure 2. E. hirsutus female cone.

Contributed by:

Dr Andre J. Cilliers (Figure 1)
Peter Heibloem Cycad Gardens (Figure 2)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums