Encephalartos ferox

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Figure 1. E. ferox in Mozambique


Common Names:

Zululand cycad

Distribution & Habitat:

This cycad is widely distributed along the coastal strip of Mozambique occurring mainly in the south. Its range extends into northern Natal along the coast. It is most often found growing in sand under the evergreen forest or growing in low undergrowth on sand dunes.


Occasionally very old plants can reach a height of 1.8m.


The leaves are holly green and the leaflets are wider than any other Encephalartos species. There is a form of E. ferox , which has curly leaves, where the leaflets roll over to form a cylinder. The leaves are 1-2m in length and highly ornamental.


Both the male and female cones are a spectacular orange red colour, but occasionally the cones can be yellow.


E. ferox is one of the most attractive and widely grown of the African cycads. It requires excellent drainage and does particularly well in deep sandy soil. It commonly grows in some shade, however in cultivation plants grown in full sun grow much faster than those grown in shade. However, if a position can be found where E. ferox gets 3 or 4 hours of sun a day, and part shade, the foliage is often more attractive. This cycad is one of the best species for the home garden.

Figure 2. E. feroxwith cones.
Figure 3. E. feroxin habitat.
Figure 4. E. feroxdouble header male cone.
Figure 5. E. ferox female cone.
Figure 6. E. ferox female cone with seeds.

Contributed by:

Peter Heibloem,
(Cycad Gardens).
(Figure 2 - from
Palms & Cycads No. 60&61, July-Dec 1998)
Dr Andre J Cilliers (Figures 1&3)
Paul Kennedy (Figure 4)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums