Encephalartos Horridus EX
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 with the majority of the stem growing below ground. Leaves are up to 1 m (39 in) long and often sharply recurved towards the tip, looking stiff and spiny. Younger leaves are a silvery-blue color but turn green with age.
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.
In the wild there is evidence of distinct variation within the species, including a possible ‘dwarf’ form found around Port Elizabeth
Cycads have few natural enemies; however, in the wild, they can be subject to predation from animals such as porcupines, baboons and certain insects. Although the Eastern Cape blue cycad can reproduce by suckering, more commonly reproduction requires insect pollination. Once seed cones have been pollinated seeds are spread by animals that eat the fleshy cones.
This cycad is listed as an endangered species by the 2003 IUCN Red List, a change from its vulnerable listing in the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. Historically it was over-collected in the wild but widespread availability in commercial nurseries has reduced some of this pressure.
Cultivation and propagation
Like all cycads, the Eastern Cape blue cycad is a slow grower. It responds well to deep, fertile soil enriched with compost. It is best suited to temperate and subtropical regions, however it can tolerate light to moderate frosts. It requires full sun, excellent drainage, not too much water and slightly acidic soil to prosper. It is common for the species to form new leaves and cones regularly. Plants are available from nurseries in many areas, however they are also easy to propagate from seeds. They can also be propagated from suckers with some patience and experience.