Blue Cycad

Scientific Name
Encephalartos horridus (Jacq.) Lehm.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Blue Cycad (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered A2cd
Assessment Date
J.S. Donaldson
Extinct in several parts of its former range, notably west of Port Elizabeth and near Uitenhage. It has a restricted distribution but does not qualify for EN in terms of the B criterion because there are more than five subpopulations that are not severely fragmented. Overall decline is difficult to judge, but is estimated as being over 50% based on habitat loss and declines recorded in repeat photographs.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Sundays Valley Thicket, Bethelsdorp Bontveld
Xeric thicket, often on rocky quartzite outcrops.
Threatened by habitat loss to urban expansion and overcollecting for ornamental/horticultural purposes.

E. horridus is now extinct in several parts of its former range where all populations have been removed by urban development. Substantial numbers have also been removed by collectors in the past 50 years. It is difficult to estimate what proportion of plants have disappeared, however, it may be as high as 50%.

Population trend
Protected in several private game reserves.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Encephalartos horridus (Jacq.) Lehm.EN A2cdRaimondo et al. (2009)
Encephalartos horridus (Jacq.) Lehm.Vulnerable Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Encephalartos horridus (Jacq.) Lehm.Vulnerable Hall et al. (1980)

Donaldson, J.S. 2003. Cycads. Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Cycad Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland; Cambridge, UK.

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

Hall, A.V., De Winter, M., De Winter, B. and Van Oosterhout, S.A.M. 1980. Threatened plants of southern Africa. South African National Scienctific Programmes Report 45. CSIR, Pretoria.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Kemp, M. 1986. Focus on Encephalartos horridus. Encephalartos 7:8-13.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Donaldson, J.S. 2009. Encephalartos horridus (Jacq.) Lehm. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2021/12/02

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Distribution map

© C. Paterson-Jones

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