Encephalartos Horridus


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Encephalartos horridus, the Eastern Cape blue cycad, is a small, low-growing cycad up to 0.9 m high and 0.9 m wide. It is a native of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, and found in arid shrublands, most commonly on ridges and slopes with shallow soils.



Encephalartos Horridus

Encephalartos horridus, the Eastern Cape blue cycad, is a small, low-growing cycad up to 0.9 m high and 0.9 m wide. It is a native of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, and found in arid shrublands, most commonly on ridges and slopes with shallow soils

Cycads come from many different regions of the world.  As a group, they are very primitive plants that haven’t evolved my since the time of the dinosaurs.  Some are definitely dwarf in size while others get quite large.  Leaf color ranges from green to blue, some with emerging new red colored leaves.  Of all the cycads in existence, the ones with a blue color to the leaves are most popular.  True, the common Sago Palm is more frequently seen in landscapes, but among collectors, botanists and cycad enthusiasts, the blues rank as number one.  Encephalartos horridus is such a blue cycad and is native to the Eastern Cape region of the Republic of South Africa.  Overall it is small in stature, likes sun and heat, and is fairly cold tolerant.  From a nurseryman’s point of view, I would rank it as the most popular of all the blue cycads.  Almost all serious cycad enthusiasts have one or more in their collections or gardens.  It has very spiny leaflets and develops a silver-blue color when in the sun. It also makes an ideal potted plant for a sunny location.  Below I will discuss this species, its characteristics, its culture and usage in the landscape.


Encephalartos horridus, commonly known as the Eastern Cape blue cycad, stands as a diminutive yet noteworthy member of the cycad family. It typically grows to modest dimensions, reaching a height and a width of up to 0.9 meters. This cycad is endemic to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, where it has adapted to thrive in the harsh conditions of arid shrublands. It exhibits a preference for topographical features such as ridges and slopes, where the soil is shallow and nutrient availability is often limited. The Eastern Cape blue cycad’s ability to survive in such environments underscores its resilience, making it a fascinating subject of study in the realm of botany.”

Encephalartos Horridus is a species of cycad, also known as the Eastern Cape blue cycad. It is native to South Africa and has blue-green, spiky leaves that can grow up to 1.5 meters long. This plant prefers well-drained sandy soils and full sun to light shade conditions. It is well-suited for gardens in warm, dry climates and is commonly used as an ornamental plant due to its striking appearance.

When one researches the derivation of the word “horridus”, such terms as “bristle”, “shutter”, “shrink from” are found.  I think this all translates into the extremely prickly nature of the leaves and leaflets of this species.  Leaves emerge from the trunk, go upright and then, to a greater or lesser extent, curve downwards toward the ground.   Their length on mature specimens is usually two to three feet.  Dwarf forms can have shorter leaves.  The numbers of leaves vary with growing conditions but can be upwards of 20 or more.  Leaf width is about 6 inches.  As new leaves emerge, older leaves “lay down” closer to the ground.  There is a short bare petiole proximal to the inner leaflets.

This species is primarily found in arid and rocky habitats, generally growing on hillsides and slopes.
4. Encephalartos horridus has long, pinnate leaves that can reach up to 1 meter in length and are densely covered in sharp spines, giving it an almost “horrid” appearance.
5. The plant exhibits dioecious reproduction, meaning male and female reproductive structures are found on separate plants. The male cones are slender and elongated while female cones are comparatively shorter and broader.
6. Pollination of Encephalartos horridus typically occurs through wind dispersal or by insects like beetles.
7. Seeds produced by the female plant are large, bright red, and toxic if ingested.
8. Encephalartos horridus has been classified as a vulnerable species due to habitat loss, illegal collection for horticulture purposes, and slow reproduction rates.
9. In cultivation, this cycad is considered an ornamental plant and prized for its striking appearance and low-maintenance requirements; however, its cultivation should be done ethically through legal sources.
10. Conservation efforts for Encephalartos horridus include habitat protection, in-situ conservation strategies, ex-situ cultivation in botanical gardens, and legal enforcement to prevent illegal trade of this endangered species.


For More  Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Encephalartos_horridus_-_Palmengarten_Frankfurt.jpg


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