Kaapsehoop Cycad

Scientific Name
Encephalartos laevifolius Stapf & Burtt Davy
Higher Classification
Common Names
Broodboom (a), Cycad (e), Kaapsehoop Cycad (e), Kaapsehoop-broodboom (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered A2acde
Assessment Date
J.S. Donaldson
Subpopulations across the range have declined substantially. Dramatic declines have been recorded at Kaapsehoop, all subpopulations in Limpopo province are now extinct, and the subpopulation on Mariepskop is virtually extinct. Where it has been monitored, decline has exceeded 80%. All subpopulations are also affected by a fusarium fungus that attacks the cones so that no viable seeds are produced.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga
Restricted to high mountain peaks in eastern Mpumalanga and parts of Swaziland. Locally extinct in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Pondoland.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Malelane Mountain Bushveld, Northern KwaZulu-Natal Moist Grassland, Northern Escarpment Quartzite Sourveld, Pondoland-Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld
Steep, rocky slopes in mistbelt grassland, 1300-1500 m.
Signs of stem harvesting for traditional medicine have been observed. Some evidence of plant pathogens have been reported. In addition, E. laevifolius is threatened due to habitat loss caused by alien invasive plants and timber plantations. This species has also been drastically affected by over-collecting for ornamental purposes. All populations are also affected by a fusarium fungus that attacks the cones so that no viable seeds are produced.

This formerly widespread cycad has declined extensively across its range, and it is now locally extinct in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Over 80% declines have been recorded in monitored subpopulations. It is estimated that only between 700 and 820 mature individuals remain in a few scattered localities in Mpumalanga and Swaziland.

Population trend
Plants occur in four nature reserves in Mpumalanga an Swaziland.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Encephalartos laevifolius Stapf & Burtt DavyCR A2acdeRaimondo et al. (2009)
Encephalartos laevifolius Stapf & Burtt DavyEN B1B2abcdScott-Shaw (1999)
Encephalartos laevifolius Stapf & Burtt DavyEndangered Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Encephalartos laevifolius Stapf & Burtt DavyEndangered Hall et al. (1980)

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

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

Emery, A.J., Lötter, M. and Williamson, S.D. 2002. Determining the conservation value of land in Mpumalanga. Report to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, South Africa.

Grobbelaar, N. 2003. Cycads. With special reference to the southern African species. (2nd ed.). Nat Grobbelaar, Pretoria.

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.

Osborne, R. 1989. Focus on Encephalartos laevifolius. Encephalartos 19:2-8.

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.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.

Donaldson, J.S. 2009. Encephalartos laevifolius Stapf & Burtt Davy. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2019/04/23

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Distribution map

© Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency (M.T.P.A.)

© J.E. Burrows

© J.S. Donaldson

© J.S. Donaldson

© J.S. Donaldson

© J.S. Donaldson

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