T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Encephalartos transvenosus (Modjadji Cycad)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Cycadophyta
Class: Cycadopsida
Order: Cycadales
Family: Zamiaceae
Genus: Encephalartos
Species: E. transvenosus
Binomial name: Encephalartos transvenosus
Common name: Modjadji Cycad, Modjadji's Cycad

Encephalartos transvenosus is a dioecious, gymnosperm, palm-like cycad in the family Zamiaceae. It native to the mountains of northern Transvaal and particularly on two hills near Modjadji near Duivelskloof. It forms pure forests on these hills, the only cycad forests in Southern Africa. It is also sometimes called "Modjadji's palm" and is named after the Rain Queens (Modjadji) of the Lovedu region who have protected this locally common species for centuries. The species name transvenosus refers to the fine network of veins between the main veins. These can be seen when the leaf is held up to the light.
The tree grows up to twelve metres tall with a thick trunk deeply scored in a netted pattern. This is crowned by nearly straight, shiny, spiny pinnate leaves up to two and a half metres long. The leaflets are broad, the middle ones up to about three centimetres in width, slightly curved and with small marginal teeth. Two to four large cones are borne in the heart of the leaves. The female cone may reach eighty centimetres long, weigh thirty four kilograms and have brilliant orange-red seeds.