This species has two subspecies. E. barteri ssp. barteri and E. barteri ssp. allochrous. The subspecies are quite distinct and there is a strong likelihood that E. barteri ssp. allochrous will be elevated to species status in future. The subspecies are assessed separately.
Justification: Encephalartos barteri comprises two subspecies - E. barteri barteri, which is more widespread and numerous and has been assessed as Vulnerable, and E. barteri allochrous, which has a restricted distribution and has been assessed as Endangered. The overall assessment of Vulnerable is based on past (60 years) and future (next 30 years) population declines that are estimated to exceed 30% (three generations is 210 years).
This species occurs near the town of Tokkos on the Jos Plateau, which is in the Plateau State of central Nigeria and between Jebba and Ilorin in Nigeria, in the Borgou province and near Savalou in Benin and in the Volta river catchment area in Ghana. This cycad almost certainly occurs in Togo. Occurs between 400 and 1,400 m asl.
Plants grow on rocky slopes, in woodland savanna vegetation consisting of scattered trees and a ground flora dominated by grass. They are also found on sandstone or granite outcrops on steep slopes in tropical woodland.
This species may be affected by too frequent fires which could prevent seedling growth. Plants are also removed from the wild by collectors. Part of the population was lost due to flooding when the Volga dam was built.