|Photo Ken Hill
|The Cycad Pages
- Stangeria eriopus (Kunze) Baill., Hist. Pl. 12: 68 (1892). BAS
From the Greek prefix erio-, woolly, and suffix -pus, footed,
referring the the woolly petiole bases.
Although collected early in the 19th Century, it was many years before
this unusual plant was recognised as a cycad. The early sterile collections
were identified as ferns, firstly as Lomaria coriacea. It was
next described by German botanist Otto Kunze as new species of fern, Lomaria
eriopus in 1829. It was only recognised as a cycad in 1851, when a plant
collected by Dr Stanger produced a cone in Chelsea Physic garden in London,
caused some consternation. It was promptly described as a new cycad
genus by English botanist T Moore, who also gave in a
new specific epithet paradoxa,
a reference to the confusion with ferns. This was inadmissable under the
rules of botanical nomenclature, and the correct combination of Stangeria
eriopus was made By French botanist Henri Baillon in 1892 (and
again by English botanist George Nash in 1909, apparently unaware of
the earlier publication).
The pinnately veined, fern like leaves immediately distinguish
Stangeria from all other cycads.
Distribution and habitat:
Widespread on the east coast of South Africa and southern Mozambique, in
various habitats from grassland to closed forest, usually within a few
kilometres of the ocean.
Not considered to be at risk, although under considerable pressure
from traditional herbalists.
1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants category R.
Vernacular: fingo, hottentot's head
subterranean and tuber-like.
0.3-2 m long, bright to dark green, dull, fern-like (with an
erect petiole and arching rachis
to give a horizontal leaf blade), pinnate; petiole round, spine-free, 10-80
20-100, soft but somewhat coriaceous, lanceolate to oblong, acute or
rounded, entire, dentate or lobed, 8-40 cm long, 1.5-5 cm wide.
solitary, long-pedunculate, cylindrical, grey to light yellow,
10-25 cm long, 3-4 cm diam.
solitary, long-pedunculate, ovoid, grey to light yellow,
8-30 cm long, 6-10 cm diam.
ovoid, 30-35 mm long, 20-25 mm diam,; sarcotesta purple-red
2n = 16.