The Cycad Pages
Encephalartos aplanatus

Encephalartos aplanatus Vorster, S. African J. Bot. 62(1): 57-60 (1996). H—PRE
"TYPE: Swaziland, NE Swaziland, precise locality withheld, P. Vorster 2963b (holo PRE)."

Etymology: Latin planatus, flat, with the modifying prefix a-, not, from the twisted and undulate leaflets.




Historical notes: Described in 1996 by South African botanist Piet Vorster. Although very similar in reproductive structures to E. villosus, studies of pollinating insects (Oberprieler 1995) have shown that it is pollinated by a different species of insect, supporting the separation as a different species.

Distinguishing features: Encephalartos aplanatus closely resembles E. villosus in habit and seed and pollen cones. It can be distinguished by teh larger and longer leaves with longer clear petioles and larger leaflets with more marginal teeth and that are often twisted and undulate. The stem is also sometimes raised above ground, whereas it is always underground in E villosus.

Distribution and habitat: A restricted species known only from a small area in north-eastern Swaziland

Conservation: Not listed in the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.


Plants acaulescent; 2-8 leaves in crown.

Leaves 350 cm long, dark green, highly glossy, slightly keeled to flat in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 150-180° on rachis); rachis green, gently curved, somewhat lax, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with 1-6 prickles, spine-free for 20 cm; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets reducing to spines.

Leaflets linear or lanceolate, strongly discolorous, not overlapping, not lobed, insertion angle obtuse (45-80°); margins incurved (often twisted or undulate); upper margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); lower margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); median leaflets 30 cm long, 40 mm wide.

Pollen cones 1-3, fusiform, yellow, 60 cm long, 8-10 cm diam.

Seed cones 1-2, ovoid, yellow, 40 cm long, 12 cm diam.

Seeds flattened-ovoid, 25 mm long, 13-15 mm wide, sarcotesta red.

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