Encephalartos Horridus


Size: Caudex 9cm



Encephalartos Horridus

Encephalartos horridus, the Eastern Cape blue cycad, is a small, low-growing cycad up to 0.9 m (3.0 ft) high and 0.9 m (3.0 ft) wide. It is a native of Eastern Cape ProvinceSouth Africa, and found in arid shrublands, most commonly on ridges and slopes with shallow soils. The species is particularly known for its distinctly blue-gray leaves, although the degree of coloration can vary significantly.The species name horridus is Latin for ‘bristly’, after the plant’s stiff, spiny leaflets.


Mature plants have big stems of between 0.5–1 m (20–39 in) in length and 20–30 cm (8–12 in) in diameter[5] with the majority of the stem growing below ground.[3] Leaves are up to 1 m (39 in) long and often sharply recurved towards the tip, looking stiff and spiny.[4] Younger leaves are a silvery-blue colour but turn green with age.[5]

Cones are usually brownish- or blackish-red and single with a dense layer of fine hair. Both male and female cones are produced. The female cone is egg-shaped and up to 40 cm (15.5 in) long and 20 cm (8 in) in diameter while the male cone is largely cylindrical narrowing towards the ends up to 40 cm (16 in) long and 12 cm (4.5 in) in diameter. Seeds are roughly triangular with three flattened surfaces.[5]

In the wild there is evidence of distinct variation within the species, including a possible ‘dwarf’ form found around Port Elizabeth.

Conservation Status

This cycad is assessed as Endangered by the Red List of South African plants. Contact your local conservation authorities for permit details.


Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, this cycad is restricted to the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage districts of Eastern Cape. This is an almost frost-free area with an annual rainfall ranging from 250 mm-650 mm. This cycad occurs in various habitats such as Karoo scrub, sourveld, deep fertile soil and open rocky ridges. It is found in full sun. The climate is hot in summer, cool to mild in winter with frosts a rarity.

Derivation of name and historical aspects

The specific name horridus means Latin ‘bristly, dreadful, horrible’ from Latin, an appropriate name for this species with its heavily armed leaves.


African cycads have few enemies in nature itself. Animals such as porcupines and baboons can cause damage to the stem and cones, because of their feeding habits. Neither of these animals are a large threat to cycad populations. Insects that can harm cycads are larvae of certain moths and seed-eating snout beetles or weevils.


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Encephalartos Horridus”

Your email address will not be published.