Encephalartos woodii

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Figure 1. E. woodii leaf detail


Distribution and Habitat:

Its only known location was a steep south-facing slope on the edge of the Ngoye forest about 30 km from Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal.


A large cycad, to about 6 metres, and trunk up to 0.9m across at the base. Dark green glossy leaves to about 3m long, which arch gracefully, giving the plant a very attractive appearance.


Famous for being one of the rarest plants in the world, extinct in the wild, and also for not being able to produce seeds. The only plants ever found were males, and hence in the absence of females, no pure woodii seeds can be produced. However, many people are crossing it with E. natalensis, (its closest relative), and then back crossing the offspring with E. woodii, so that after 3 or generations, you have almost pure E. woodii again.

It produces offsets, or "pups" very freely however, so there are several hundred plants of E. woodii now being grown around the world.


Not often seen in cultivation :), although usually quite easy to grow. Requires a sunny, well drained position, with regular watering in summer, but let it dry out in winter.

Figure 2. E. woodii at Kew Gardens, London.
Figure 3. E. woodii at Kew Gardens, London.
Figure 4. E. woodii in Durban Botanic Gardens.

Contributed by:

Colin Wilson (Figure 1&2)
Nicholas Cock (Figure 3)
Ken Hill (from Palms & Cycads No. 40, July-Sept 1993) (Figure 4)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums