Photo Ken Hill
The Cycad Pages
Encephalartos altensteinii

Encephalartos altensteinii Lehm., "Pugill. 6: 11, t. 4, 5" (1834). tt. 4 & 5
TYPE: the plates t. 4 & 5.

Encephalartos altensteinii var. angustifolia Miq., Monogr. Cycad. 52 (1842).

"TYPE: ""cult. ins. Pavon."" Encephalartos glaber cited."
Encephalartos altensteinii var. distans Regel, Trudy Imp. S.-Petersburgsk. Bot. Sada 3: 114 (1873).
TYPE: Zamia vernicosa hort. Versch. Cited.
Encephalartos altensteinii var. eriocephalus de Vriese, Nederl. Kruidk Arch. 1:171 (1846).
TYPE: the plate Descr. Pl. Nouv. Jard. Leyde p. 1 t. 1 & 2 (1847).
Encephalartos altensteinii var. parvifolius Regel, Trudy Imp. S.-Petersburgsk. Bot. Sada 3: 114 (1873).
"TYPE: Zamia elegantissima, Z. vandenheckii & Enc. vromii hort. Versch. Cited."
Encephalartos altensteinii var. semidentatus Miq., Monogr. Cycad. 51 (1842).
"TYPE: ""cl van Marum in hort. Amstelod."" Enc marumii cited."
Encephalartos altensteinii var. spinosior Regel, Gartenflora 24: 40 (1875).
TYPE: Enc vromii cited.

Etymology: Honoring --- Altenstein, 19th century German statesman and patron of science.




Historical notes: Described in 1834 by German botanist J.G.C. Lehmann.

Distinguishing features: A robust, tall growing species with deep green glossy leaves, leaflets held in a V and yellow cones, very closely allied to E. natalensis, E. lebomboensis and E. woodii. E. altensteinii is distinguished in this group by the straight rachis, the broad, well-spaced leaflets with 1-3 prickles on each margin, the basal leaflets not reducing to spines, leaving 15-20 cm of bare petiole, and the lack of woolly tomentum in the crown around newly emerging leaves.

Distribution and habitat: A widespread species in eastern Cape and south-western Natal provinces, South Africa, in near-coastal sites ranging from open shrubland steep rocky slopes to closed evergreen forests in valleys.

Conservation: 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants category V.


Plants arborescent; stem 5 m tall, 25-35 cm diam.

Leaves 100-200 cm long, light or bright green to dark green, highly glossy, moderately keeled (opposing leaflets inserted at 100-150° on rachis); rachis green, straight, stiff, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with no prickles; leaf-base collar not clear; basal leaflets not reducing to spines.

Leaflets lanceolate or ovate, strongly discolorous, overlapping downwards or not overlapping, not lobed, insertion angle obtuse (45-80°); margins flat; upper margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); lower margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); median leaflets 15 cm long, 25 mm wide.

Pollen cones 1-5, narrowly ovoid, yellow, 40-50 cm long, 12-15 cm diam.

Seed cones 1-5, ovoid, yellow, 40-55 cm long, 25-30 cm diam.

Seeds oblong, 35-40 mm long, 20-25 mm wide, sarcotesta red.

The Cycad Pages

© 1998-2012 Royal Botanic Gardens Sy dney
Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
Maintained by Leonie Stanberg and Dennis Stevenson 2010-2012
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