Encephalartos ghellinckii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos ghellinckii Lem.
Common Name(s):
English Drakensberg Cycad

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Donaldson, J.S.
Reviewer(s): Agenbag, L. & Bösenberg, J.D.
Two forms are recognized, one occurring at high altitudes and the other at low altitudes. The high altitude form is relatively secure in the Drakensberg mountains, but the lowland form is extremely rare and declining. Estimated decline overall is ca. 10% over three generations, mostly in lowland areas.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. They occur in mountainous regions and in grasslands on rocky ridges and slopes. In the south, populations are found at Flagstaff and Tabankulu. Further north the distribution extends to the Izingolweni area (near Port Shepstone) in KwaZulu-Natal. Populations are also found west of Umzinto and still further north to the north of the Mkomazi river. Plants are also found in the Mount Currie area and in the Drakensberg it is found from Giant's Castle in the south to Mont-aux-Sources in the north. The largest stands are found in the Mlambonja Valley. Has a wide elevational range being recorded from 700 up to 2,400 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal)
Additional data:
Number of Locations:10-12
Lower elevation limit (metres):700
Upper elevation limit (metres):2400
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The subpopulations are isolated, small (some with only a few plants) and widely scattered. This is especially true of the lowland subpopulations (i.e. not in the Drakensberg).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:8000-10000
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The habitat of E. ghellinckii varies from montane grassland and rocky outcrops to sandstone cliffs in the Drakensberg where plants are associated with montane fynbos vegetation. As with many grassland species E. ghellinkii is also associated with a fire cycle. This seems to stimulate new leaf flushes and is possibly necessary for coning. The climate is mild to hot in summer. Winters are very cold with snow at the higher altitudes. Coastal areas have a mild winter climate.
Generation Length (years):70

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat for this species is over-collecting for ornamental purposes. Too frequent fires may have an effect in certain subpopulations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. Populations are protected in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and in the Mpendle Nature Reserve.

Classifications [top]

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)
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
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

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

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

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

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

Osborne, R. 1987. Focus on Encephalartos ghellincki. Encephalartos 12: 16-23.

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 ghellinckii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41915A10593685. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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