Encephalartos Lehm., Pugill. 6: 14 (1834)
from the Greek en
, in, cephale
, head, and artos
in reference to the flour
obtained from the trunks of some species by the indigeous tribespeople.
Type: Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi
Named by German botanist J.G.C. (Johann Georg Christian) Lehmann in 1834. All cycads except Cycas
had been regarded as members of the genus Zamia
until then, and some botanists
continued to follow this line for many years after Lehmann had separated
as a separate genus. His concept was originally
much broader than ours today,
including also the Australian plants we now know as Macrozamia
Zamiaceae; 62 species, Africa.
- Leaves pinnate
- Leaflets lacking a midrib
- Leaflets not articulated
- Sporophylls not in vertical rows in cones
- Megasporophyll apices faceted or flattened and deflexed
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Habit: dioecious palmlike shrubs with often large aerial or subterranean,
pachycaul, cylindrical stems, with usually many leaves and persistent leaf bases. Basal offsets ("suckers")
produced by most species, aerial branching uncommon.
Leaves: pinnate, spirally arranged, interspersed with cataphylls,
lower leaflets often reduced to spines. Petioles lacking prickles, usually swollen at the base,
with a distinctly differently coloured collar in some species. Longitudinal ptyxis erect,
horizontal ptyxis erect. Leaflets simple, frequently with spiny, dentate or lobed
margins, with numerous bifurcating parallel
veins and no distinct midrib, leaflets not articulated,
inserted near the edges of the rhachis towards the adaxial side,
lacking a differently coloured basal gland; stomata
on lower surface only or on both surfaces; epidermal cells elongated
parallel to long axes of leaflets. Leaves pubescent, at least
when young, with branched or simple transparent hairs.
Microsporophylls: spirally aggregated into determinate, stalked or sessile
male cones and each with a simple sterile apex, which is often
flattened or faceted but never produced into an upturned spine. Each microsporophyll bearing
numerous microsporangia (pollensacs) on its abaxial surfaces.
Microsporangia opening by slits. Pollen cymbiform, monosulcate.
Megasporophylls: spirally aggregated into determinate, stalked
female cones. Sporophylls simple, appearing peltate with a simple
dilated apex which is often flattened or faceted but never
produced into an upturned
spine. Ovules two (rarely three), sessile, orthotropous, inserted
on the inner (axis-facing) surface of the thickened lamina and
directed inwards ("inverted").
Seeds: subglobular to oblong or ellipsoidal, with a red,
yellow, orange or brown fleshy outer sarcotesta. Endosperm
haploid, derived from the female gametophyte. Embryo straight;
with 2 cotyledons that are usually united at the tips and a very
long, spirally twisted suspensor. Seeds radiospermic; germination
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