Encephalartos altensteinii


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Encephalartos altensteinii
Species Authority: Lehm.
Common Name(s):
English Eastern Cape Cycad, Eastern Cape Giant Cycad
Encephalartos marumii De Vreise

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2acd; C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Donaldson, J.S.
Reviewer(s): Agenbag, L. & Bösenberg, J.D.
Estimated to have declined by >30% (but less <50%) in the past 50 years (<3 generations) based on repeat photographs and therefore qualifies as Vulnerable under criterion A. Large numbers have been removed from areas such as Bushman's River and the Tamara area of the Eastern Cape where 438 plants were taken out in one poaching incident in 1995. Also qualifies under criterion C due to a population size of <10,000 mature individuals and a decline of >10% over the past 50 years.
2003 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This is a widespread species of the coastal regions of the Eastern Cape, extending to the border with KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Populations occur inland in the Amatola mountain range and in the foothills around King Williams Town. Subpopulations occur in at least 10 river valleys extending from the Bushmans river in the south, through the Kariega, Kowie, Riet, Fish, Kap, Biga, Buffalo, Mpetu, Kei, Keiskamma, and Mbashe rivers. Occurs from near sea level up to 600 m.
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The total population of E. altensteinii is estimated to be near 10,000 individuals. Subpopulations that have been surveyed for assessing the impacts of collecting, typically number about 500 plants.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occurs in near-coastal sites ranging from open shrubland or grassland and steep rocky slopes to closed evergreen forests in valleys. Plants often occur along river banks and also occur inland at a few sites at higher altitude along the Amatola mountain range.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Sections of the protective layer of the trunk of the plant formed by retained old leaf bases, are harvested for use as medicine ("muti"). These plant parts are considered to have mystical powers.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat destruction has been a significant problem in coastal habitats where resort developments in the main estuaries have displaced cycad habitat. Removal by collectors has also been a significant problem, especially in rural areas near King Williams Town. Bark harvesting for traditional medicinal use is endemic in the region, but has increased in recent years so that it is not uncommon to find up to 10% mortality at any one time.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. The species is conserved in several protected areas, including the Waters Meeting, Kap River, and Dwesa nature reserves, and the Umtiza State Forest.

Citation: Donaldson, J.S. 2010. Encephalartos altensteinii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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