Giant Cycad

Scientific Name
Encephalartos natalensis R.A.Dyer & I.Verd.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Broodboom (a), Cycad (e), Giant Cycad (e), Isidwaba-somkhovu (z), Isigqiki-semkhovu (z), Natal Cycad (e), Natal Giant Cycad (e), Natalbroodboom (a), Natal-broodboom (a), Umguza (x), Umhlungulo (z), Umphanga (x)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened A2ad
Assessment Date
J.S. Donaldson
This species has declined in some parts of its range. The overall population decline is estimated to be <30% over the past 60 years, based on repeat photographs and visits to subpopulations. It could be listed as Vulnerable if overall population numbers drop below 10 000 (C1) or if the extent of decline increases from the current level up to 30% or higher.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal
Vryheid to Qumbu and Tabankulu.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Forest, Grassland, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt, Savanna
Cliffs and either hot, dry slopes or cool, south-facing, often forested slopes.
Some subpopulations have been impacted by collecting and bark harvesting for medicinal purposes. For example, the plants at the type locality at Monteseel have been debarked resulting in mortality.

There are numerous subpopulations scattered throughout its range, with numbers of mature individuals to be between 8 300 and 12 000. The population has declined in parts of the range, but it is not suspected to exceed 30% in three generations.

Population trend
Plants are protected in several nature reserves in KwaZulu-Natal.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Encephalartos natalensis R.A.Dyer & I.Verd.NT A2adRaimondo et al. (2009)
Encephalartos natalensis R.A.Dyer & I.Verd.Lower Risk - Conservation Dependent Scott-Shaw (1999)
Encephalartos natalensis R.A.Dyer & I.Verd.Rare Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Encephalartos natalensis R.A.Dyer & I.Verd.Rare 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.

Goode, D. 2001. Cycads of Africa Volume I. D&E Cycads of Africa, Gallo Manor.

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.

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 natalensis R.A.Dyer & I.Verd. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2019/10/15

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Distribution map

© R. Boon

© R. Boon

© J.S. Donaldson

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