Encephalartos longifolius

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Figure 1. E. longifolius in habitat, Suurberge Reserve, Eastern Cape.


Distribution & Habitat:

A wide range of habitats in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.


A medium sized clumping cycad, to about 4.5 tall, with up to 10 stems. Dark green leaves to about 2m long. It has the largest female cone of the genus, and it can weigh up to 40kg.


A plant sent to Kew Gardens in 1775, by Masson while he was collecting with Carl Pehr Thunberg, still survives and was believed to be E. longifolius. It was properly identified as E. altensteinii recently and is believed to be the oldest greenhouse plant in the gardens. A point of interrest is that E. altensteinii does not occur naturally in the Langkloof, where this plant was supposedly collected.


Full sun, well drained position.

Figure 2. E. longifolius

These pictures (Figures1-3) were taken in Suurberge Reserve (berge = mountains) next to the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape. Plants were growing on northern slopes in mostly long grass and full sun. Soil is clay but drainage was still very good because of the slope. There are some plants showing hybridisation with E.horridus, ie. lobed leaflets but this must be a few generations ago since even the lobes are rounded much the same as normal E.longifolius leaflets. This hybrid is described in Cycads of South Africa by C. Giddy.

Figure 3. E. longifolius

Contributed by:

Wynand Van Eeden

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums