Encephalartos heenanii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos heenanii R.A.Dyer
Common Name(s):
English Heenan's Cycad, Woolly Cycad

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,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.
The very small number of plants in Swaziland means that the only viable population is in the Songimvelo reserve in South Africa. The population in South Africa and Swaziland has declined in the past 30 years. The extent of occurrence is 300 km², the area of occupancy only 5 km², and the remaining population is severely fragmented hence it qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under criterion B.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in the northeastern mountainous areas of Swaziland and in the adjacent areas of the Mpumalanga province in South Africa. Recorded from 750 to 1,750 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Mpumalanga); Swaziland
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:5
Number of Locations:2-5
Lower elevation limit (metres):750
Upper elevation limit (metres):1750
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In Swaziland it is estimated that 20 plants remain in the wild. The estimates for plants in the wild in South African are about 400.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:420
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs on very steep slopes in short grassland in deep valleys between indigenous forests. The vegetation type is Montane Grassland.
Generation Length (years):70

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened due to over-collecting for ornamental purposes and the few remaining plants could suffer from reproductive failure. Furthermore, habitat destruction as a result of the planting of pine plantations has also affected these plants because fire is prevented in this area and the plants are possibly adapted to a fire cycle.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. Populations are protected in the Somgimvelo Nature Reserve and in the Malolotja Nature Reserve.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
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
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.2. Agro-industry plantations
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 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 -> 7.1.2. Supression in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

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

Bibliography [top]

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

Golding, J. (ed.). 2002. Southern African Plant Red Data Lists. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network.

Grobbelaar, N. 2002. CYCADS - with special reference to the southern African species. Privately published by Nat Grobbelaar, Pretoria, South Africa.

Hurter, J. 1994. Focus on Encephalartos heenanii. Encephalartos 40: 4-7.

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

Citation: Donaldson, J.S. 2010. Encephalartos heenanii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41888A10569760. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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