Photo Ken Hill
The Cycad Pages
Encephalartos natalensis

Encephalartos natalensis R.A. Dyer & I. Verd., "Bothalia 6(1): 205-211, pls 1-3" (1951).
"TYPE: Republic of South Africa, Natal Province, valley of thousand hills, in Kloof, old female plant, Dyer 4475 (holo PRE)."

Etymology: From the province of Natal, with the Latin termination -ensis, place of origin.




Historical notes: Described in 1951 by South African botanists R. Allen Dyer and Inez Verdoon.

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. altensteinii, E. lebomboensis and E. woodii. E. natalensisis distinguished in this group by the straight rachis, the broad, well-spaced leaflets usually lacking prickles but sometimes with with 1-3 prickles on each margin, the basal leaflets reducing to spines, leaving no bare petiole, and the dense woolly tomentum in the crown around newly emerging leaves.

Distribution and habitat: A widespread species in southern Natal Province, with outlying occurrences in the north and in the eastern Cape Provinces, on rocky slopes and outcrops, usually inland from the coast.

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


Plants arborescent; stem 6 m tall, 25-40 cm diam.

Leaves 150-300 cm long, light or bright green, highly glossy, slightly keeled to flat in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 150-180° on rachis); rachis green, straight, stiff, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with 6-12 prickles; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets reducing to spines.

Leaflets ovate, strongly discolorous, not overlapping, not lobed, insertion angle obtuse (45-80°); margins flat; upper margin entire (no teeth), or lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); lower margin entire (no teeth), or lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); median leaflets 15-25 cm long, 25-40 mm wide.

Pollen cones 1-5, narrowly ovoid, yellow, 45-50 cm long, 10-12 cm diam.

Seed cones 1-5, ovoid, yellow, 50-60 cm long, 25-30 cm diam.

Seeds oblong, 25-30 mm long, 16-18 mm wide, sarcotesta red.

The Cycad Pages

© 1998-2012 Royal Botanic Gardens Sy dney
Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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