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Products > Encephalartos lebomboensis
Encephalartos lebomboensis - Piet Retief Cycad

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Cycad
Family: Cycadaceae (Cycads)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Height: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 30-32 F
Encephalartos lebomboensis (Piet Retief Cycad) - A medium to large relatively fast growing cycad with single or multiple 1 foot thick stems which over time (many years) can grow to 13 feet long, often procumbent and topped with a crown of 40 to 60 inch long stiff and outwardly arching pinnate leaves with 7 inch long by inch wide lanceolate leaflets held at a right angle to the central rachis that are a dark glossy green color on the upper surface, lighter colored below and have sharp teeth well-spaced along the margins and with the leaf bases having numerous reduced leaf spines below the first leaflets. It will often form suckers from the base and occasionally will have offsets on the trunks. Male plants produce single or rarely a pair of narrow cylindrical 16 to 18 inch long cones and females cones are about the same length but more barrel shaped. Plant in full sun to light shade in a well well drained soil. It can withstand light frost but may be damaged by heavy frosts. This is a popular plant in cultivation because it is smaller than some of the other green South African Cycads such as Encephartos natalensis and Encephartos altensteinii. This species was first described in 1949 by Dr Inez Verdoorn with its center of distribution in the Lebombo Mountains from northern KwaZulu-Natal through Swaziland and north into Mpumalanga and plants from these different habitats are slightly different. Our plants are the form from from Mananga, Mpumalanga. Plants from the central part of the this range were also renamed Encephartos senticosus in 1995 by Dr Piet Vorster based mainly on differences in their cones scales and E. senticosus producing multiple cones, while E. lebomboensis has mostly solitary cones. A dam project on the Pongola River in the 1970s resulted in many plants being rescued prior to habitat flooding and these entered the nursery trade as Encephalartos lebomboensis, but were actually Encephartos senticosus. Encephalartos lebomboensis is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as being "Endangered" because of its over-exploitation and the degradation of its habitat due to the encroachment of agricultural land and is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Our plants are from nursery grown seedlings.  Information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it. We also will incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips would aid others in growing Encephalartos lebomboensis.