A robust, tall growing species with deep green glossy leaves, leaflets held in a V and yellow cones, very closely allied to E. altensteinii, E. lebomboensis and E. woodii. E. woodii distinguished in this group by the very long leaves with a gracefully curved rachis, the very broad overlapping leaflets usually with 2-6 prickles on the upper margin, the basal leaflets not reducing to spines, leaving a bare petiole, and the dense woolly tomentum in the crown around newly emerging leaves.

Plants arborescent; stem 6 m tall, 30-50 cm diam; 50-150 leaves in crown.

Leaves 150-250 cm long, dark green, semiglossy, moderately keeled (opposing leaflets inserted at 120° on rachis), with 70-150 leaflets; rachis green, straight, stiff, slightly twisted in some leaves; petiole straight, with 1-6 prickles, spine-free for 15 cm, 10-16 mm wide at lowest leaflet; leaf-base collar not clear; basal leaflets reducing to spines.

Leaflets ovate, strongly discolorous, overlapping upwards, not lobed, insertion angle obtuse (45-80°); margins flat; upper margin entire (no teeth); lower margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); median leaflets 13-15 cm long, 20-30 mm wide.

Pollen cones 1-6, ovoid, yellow, 20-40 cm long, 15-25 cm diam. Microsporophyll lamina 50-70 mm long, 25-50 mm wide.

Cataphylls 40 mm long.


Distribution & Habitat

South Africa - Kwazulu natal (see Notes below)

Extinct in the wild. Known only from male plants in cultivation, propagated from offsets. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants status Extinct (Ex).



Common Name: Wood's Cycad. Honoring Medley Wood, curator of the Durban Botanic gardens, who discovered this species. Described in 1908 by English horticulturist -- Sander, from a single male plant found in the Ngoya Forest by Wood. This plant had several stems and offsets, all of which were removed from the wild and taken into cultivation over the decade following its discovery. No other plants have been discovered, and this species is consequently extinct in the wild and survives only in cultivation as propagations from the original discovery.

References & Acknowledgements:

  • Images - Ken Hill
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney



Encephalartos woodii
Encephalartos woodii