Encephalartos Middelburgensis x Encephalartos Eugene Maraisii

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Description

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Origin and Habitat: Encephalartos eugene-maraisii,  occurs in a remote mountainous area of South Africa’s Limpopo Province’s Waterberg range (ex Transvaal). The estimated occupancy area is 50 km2. There are isolated subpopulations (Number of mature individuals in the wild 982-1200).
Altitude range: 1,400 to 1,500 meters above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: This species is found on the Waterberg range’s sandstone hills and rocky ridges. It grows in the savanna and opens grassland. The plants have very cold winters, and the annual rainfall ranges from 600 to 750 mm, with the majority falling in the summer. During pollination, a boring beetle (Apinotropis verdoornae) associated only with the Encephalartos eugene-maraisii swarms around the cones of this cycad, laying eggs, forming larvae, and pupating within male cones, emerging as adults by boring through the pollen-covered microsporophylls. This could be one of the ways the female cones were pollinated. Encephalartos Eugene-maraisii attracts and repels insect pollinators by using smells and heat. The plants heat up and emit a strong odor, which drives pollen-covered insects away from male plant cones. Female cones use a milder, more enticing odor to attract these same insects. When the insects switch between sexes, they unintentionally transfer pollen from male cones to female cone-receptive ovules. Over-collection for ornamental purposes is threatening E. Eugene-maraisii, which could lead to reproductive failure. Despite recent surveys showing relatively little illegal collecting, farm managers believe it is occurring.

 

Synonyms:

Common Names include:
ENGLISH: Marais’ cycad, Waterberg cycad
AFRIKAANS (Afrikaans): Waterberg broodboom, Bergpalm
SOTHO (NORTHERN) (Sesotho sa Leboa / Sepedi): Mofaka

 

Male cones: When mature, the cones are 1-3(-8) together on short stout peduncles, subcylindric, 22-42 cm long, 6-8 cm broad, and have an unpleasant odor.

Female cones: 1-3(-6) per season per stem, ovoid to oblong-ovoid in outline, 30-50 cm long, 16-20 cm broad. Female Encephalartos Eugene Maraisii cones do not disintegrate spontaneously, but instead, dry out from May to August.
Seeds: Amber to light brown or occasionally slightly tinged with red, fleshy, compressed angled, 3.5-4.4 cm long, 2.3-3 cm in diameter
Related species:  Encephalartos Eugene Maraisii is one of several species with conspicuously glaucous foliage, but it is distinguished by its straight leaves that recurve at the ends, spineless median leaflets, clear petiole, and green cones with fine brown wool… They are all found on South Africa’s northern escarpment, mostly at relatively cool and high elevations. The group consists of the nominate species, Encephalartos middelburgensis, Encephalartos nubimontanus, Encephalartos cupids, and Encephalartos dyerianus (all with similar female cones), Encephalartos dolomiticus (with very different female cones), and the poorly described and virtually unknown Encephalartos hirsutus. E. Eugene-maraisii Encephalartos Eugene Maraisii is also related to the Eastern Cape species Encephalartos lehmannii, but it is a taller and more robust plant (E. lehmannii seldom exceeds 1,5 meters in height). Furthermore, Encephalartos eugene-maraisii lacks the distinct ‘collar’ at the base of the leafstalk found in E. lehmannii.

Encephalartos Eugene Maraisii from www.etsy.com

Encephalartos Eugene-Maraisii Waterberg Cycad Gorgeous Blue image 2

 

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