Photo Ken Hill
The Cycad Pages
Encephalartos middelburgensis

Encephalartos middelburgensis Vorster, S. African J. Bot. 55: 122-126 (1989). H—PRE
"TYPE: Republic of South Africa, Transvaal, farm Doornkop, 20 km N of Middleburg, 26 June 1970, Vorster, Codd & Melville 1898B (holo PRE iso K)."

Etymology: From the district of Middelburg, eastern Transvaal, with the Latin termination -ensis, place of origin.




Historical notes: Described in 1990 by South African botanists - Robbertse, Piet Vorster and -- Van der Westhuizen, who recognised that the blue-leaved Transvaal cycads previously all included in E. eugene-maraisii fell into a number of clearly morphologically distinct and geographically separated populations (see also E dolomiticus and E. dyerianus). Similar observations were published more or less simultaneously by Lavranos and Goode (1990), resulting in creation of the redundant names E. graniticolus and E. verrucosus. E. hirsutus is another more recently recognised member of this group.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished within a group of blue-leaved Transvaal species by the long straight leaves with straight tips, the entire leaflets, the lower 4-6 pairs of leaflets reducing in size but remaining entire, a clear petiole 35 40 cm long, and green cones with a fine brown tomentum. This group of Transvaal species is distinguished from the blue-leaved species of the Cape Province (E. lehmannii and allies) by the almost concolorous leaves with stomata on both surfaces.

Distribution and habitat:

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


Plants arborescent; stem 7 m tall, 40 cm diam.

Leaves 100-180 cm long, blue or silver, dull, strongly keeled; rachis blue, straight, stiff, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with no prickles; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets not reducing to spines.

Leaflets lanceolate, concolorous, not lobed, insertion angle obtuse (45-80°); margins flat; upper margin entire (no teeth); lower margin entire (no teeth); median leaflets 18-20 cm long, 14-20 mm wide.

Pollen cones 4-8, narrowly ovoid, green, 30-35 cm long, 8-12 cm diam.

Seed cones 4-8, ovoid, green, 35-45 cm long, 17-20 cm diam.

Seeds oblong, 35-40 mm long, 20-25 mm wide, sarcotesta yellow or orange-brown.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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