Encephalartos lebomboensis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos lebomboensis
Species Authority: I.Verd.
Common Name(s):
English Lebombo Cycad

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: 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.
This is a popular species among collectors and the population has declined substantially in the past 90 years (3 generations). The subpopulation on Mananga mountain has been particularly affected by collecting. It qualifies as Endangered due the extent of past decline and its narrow distribution range. Some authors regard the true E. lebomboensis as having a narrower distribution, which if correct, would result in a classification of Critically Endangered.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2003 Endangered (EN)
1998 Rare (R)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs in the upper reaches of the Pongola and Bivane rivers in northern KwaZulu-Natal province and in the Mananga area of eastern Mpumalanga province, South Africa. Plants are also found in the adjacent area of Mozambique and along the northern parts of the Lebombo mountains of Swaziland. There is some debate about the actual range of E. lebomboensis: the original description includes the plants in the Bivane area of KwaZulu-Natal, but P.J.H. Hurter argues that only the plants in northern Swaziland and the Mananga region of Mpumalanga are true E. lebomboensis. Recorded to occur at altitudes ranging from 500 to 1,000 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Mozambique; South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga); Swaziland
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 200
Number of Locations: 5
Lower elevation limit (metres): 500
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are approximately 2,000 plants in the KwaZulu-Natal. In total there are about 5,000 plants remaining in the wild.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 5000
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species grows in savanna type vegetation. Plants are found on cliffs in rocky ravines, growing in scrub and grassland.
Systems: Terrestrial
Generation Length (years): 70

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): E. lebomboensis is threatened due to over-collecting as a result of poaching and as a result of expanding agricultural activities. Plants are also used in traditional medicine.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. Populations are found in the Mlawula Nature Reserve and the Itala Game Reserve.

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability: Suitable  
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Suitable  
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
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ 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

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

Bibliography [top]

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

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

Osborne, R. 1988. Focus on Encephalartos lebomboensis. Encephalartos 15: 6-15.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and Threatened Plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Services, Pietermaritzburg.

Citation: Donaldson, J.S. 2010. Encephalartos lebomboensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41907A10589133. . Downloaded on 27 November 2015.
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