Encephalartos cupidus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos cupidus R.A.Dyer
Common Name(s):
English Blyde River Cycad

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2acd; B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Donaldson, J.S.
Reviewer(s): Agenbag, L. & Bösenberg, J.D.
Originally occurred in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga province of South Africa, but recent surveys (2004) show that it is extinct in Limpopo and now only survives in the Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga. There has been an 80-85% population reduction in the last three generations, the remaining population has a very small extent of occurrence (58 km²) and area of occupancy (9 km²), the population is severely fragmented and there is continuing decline due to the impacts of collectors.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is confined to the Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Recorded to occur from 700 up to 1,500 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Limpopo Province - Regionally Extinct, Mpumalanga)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:9
Number of Locations:1
Lower elevation limit (metres):700
Upper elevation limit (metres):1500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species has been extirpated in two localities and the remaining population size is estimated to number 300-500 mature individuals. The population is severely fragmented.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:300-500
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:E. cupidus grows in open grassy situations on steep to precipitous rocky slopes or cliffs. Plants are also sometimes found along seepage areas bordering gallery forest as well as in dry forest.
Generation Length (years):200

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Plants are used in traditional healing practises.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species has suffered greatly as a result of over-collecting for ornamental purposes. Due to the few number of plants in the wild, reproductive failure is quite possible in the future. Droughts and fires also cause high mortality amongst the seedlings.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. Most of the remaining plants are found within the Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.2. Gathering terrestrial plants -> 5.2.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.1. Increase in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Cycad Society of South Africa. 2001-2006. Species Pages. Available at:

Emery, A.J., Lötter, M. and Williamson, S.D. 2002. Determining the conservation value of land in Mpumalanga. Available at:

Goode, D. 1989. Cycads of Africa. Struik Winchester, Cape Town.

Goode, D. 2001. Cycads of Africa. D & E Cycads of Africa, Gallo Manor, Johannesburg, South Africa.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.3). Available at: (Accessed: 2 September 2010).

Slabbert, R. and Hurter, J. 1993. Focus on Encephalartos cupidus. Encephalartos 36: 5-10.

Citation: Donaldson, J.S. 2010. Encephalartos cupidus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41884A10567684. . Downloaded on 19 August 2018.
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