Photo Ken Hill
The Cycad Pages
Encephalartos senticosus

Encephalartos senticosus Vorster, S. African J. Bot 62(2): 76-79 (1996). H—PRE
"TYPE: Swaziland, north-east of Siteki in Mlawula Game Reserve, leaf and male sporophylls, P. Vorster 2990 (holo PRE iso K, LE, MO, FTG)."





Historical notes: Described in 1996 by South African botanist Piet Vorster. The occurrence on the Lebombo Range led to the application of the name E. lebomboensis to this species, although it has been known for many years that a distinctive variant occurred to the west of this. It was recently shown that the type of E. lebomboensis belonged to the western variant (Vorster 1995, and see E. lebomboensis), and that the eastern populations lacked a name.

Distinguishing features: Within the green-leaved species of Natal Province, this species is distinguished by the short, straight, keeled leaves often with recurved tips and the lowermost 2-4 pairs of leaflets reducing to divided prickles and leaving almost no bare petiole,the lack of woolly tomentum in the crown around newly emerging leaves, the short, narrow, well-spaced, dentate leaflets, the yellow cones with 3-4 male and 2-3 female cones per stem, the usually stalked male cones and the raised pyramidal sporophyll apices. It is distinguished from E. lebomboensis by the broader leaflets and recurved leaf tips, and bright yellow to orange-yellow cones. Stems are also longer. See also E. msinganus, another recently separated species distinguished by the shorter, slightly broader leaflets and verrucose cone scales.

Distribution and habitat: Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and adjacent Swaziland, on rocky slopes or cliffs in dry shrubby scrub along the Lebombo Range.

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


Plants arborescent; stem 4 m tall, 30 cm diam.

Leaves 110-180 cm long, dark green, highly glossy, moderately keeled (opposing leaflets inserted at 135° on rachis); rachis yellowish, straight, stiff or gently curved, somewhat lax, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with 1-6 prickles, spine-free for 5-20 cm; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets reducing to spines.

Leaflets lanceolate, strongly discolorous, overlapping downwards or not overlapping, not lobed, insertion angle acute (less than 45°); margins flat; upper margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); lower margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); median leaflets 8-18 cm long, 14-27 mm wide.

Pollen cones 3-4, narrowly ovoid, yellow, 30-60 cm long, 10 cm diam.

Seed cones 2-3, ovoid, yellow, 45 cm long, 22 cm diam.

Seeds oblong, sarcotesta red.

The Cycad Pages

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