Encephalartos hildebrandtii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos hildebrandtii A.Braun & C.D.Bouché
Common Name(s):
English Mombasa Cycad
Encephalartos hildebrandtii A.Braun & C.D.Bouché ssp. dentatus Melville
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomy of E. hildebrandtii originally brought together a number of scattered populations of somewhat questionable relationship. Plants from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda are now treated as two separate species: E. ituriensis and E. whitelockii.  The distinction between Melville's two varieties of E. hildebrandtii, hildebrandtii and dentatus, was based solely on cone characteristics. There is general agreement that the differences are minor and hence the two varieties are no longer recognized.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Eastern Arc Mountains & Coastal Forests CEPF Plant Assessment Project & Bösenberg, J.D.
Reviewer(s): Beentje, H., Gereau, R., Kabuye, C., Kalema, J., Luke, Q., Lyaruu, H., Maunder, M., Mwachala, G., Ndangalasi, H., Njau, F. & Schatz, G. (East African Plants Red List Authority) & Donaldson, J.S. (Cycad Red List Authority)
Widespread with relatively large subpopulations. However, subpopulations have been destroyed on Zanzibar and along the coast due to urban and tourism developments and expanding agricultural activities. These do not threaten the species at present, but its decline should be monitored.

Is listed as Near Threatened because although it has a large extent of occurrence the area of occupancy is much smaller and close to the threshold for Vulnerable and there is continuing decline in the severely fragmented population. If the decline continues, the population reduction could exceed 30% over three generations.Thus almost qualifies for listing under criteria A3d; B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv.v).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Occurs in the coastal and near-coastal districts of Kenya and Tanzania including Zanzibar island (Tanzania). Reports of cycads from northern Mozambique may also turn out to be E. hildebrandtii. Occurs from sea level up to 600 m.
Countries occurrence:
Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:2000Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:79370
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Yes
Number of Locations:13-15Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Occurs in many locations, and is locally abundant in places. Population size is estimated to be about 20,000 mature individuals.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:10000-20000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Mainly found in coastal evergreen bushland and dry lowland forest, in red loams and sandy soils among grass and coral rocks.

Appears to need shade for successful germination.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):70

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Use of seeds as famine food in northern Kenya has in the past been shown to lead to a high incidence of liver cancer in the Boni people.

This species like all cycads is highly sought after in the horticulture trade. Plants are removed from the wild and sold to hotel developers, etc. nationally.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat destruction as a result of urban expansion, coastal resort development, and agricultural expansion is having a direct impact on the species. Former large subpopulations of the species have been lost as result.

In times of famine, the stems have reportedly been used for food in Zanzibar, although it is more likely the seeds that are used, as is the case in northern Kenya (the central pith of the stem and the endosperm from the seeds is used to prepare a starchy form of bread).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Recorded from a number of protected areas including: Jozani Forest Reserve on Zanzibar, Saadani National Park, one locality within Gendagenda South Forest Reserve, and one locality within Amani Nature Forest Reserve (all Tanzania); and two localities within Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve (Kenya).

The species is well represented in botanical gardens and private collections worldwide.

Is listed in CITES Appendix I.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
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
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing:Ongoing  ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines  
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

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 -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

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

Jones, D.L. 2002. Cycads of the World (2nd edition). Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, DC.

Prain, D. 1917. Cycadaceae. Flora of Tropical Africa 6(2): 344-354.

Whitelock, L.M. 2002. The Cycads. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

Citation: Eastern Arc Mountains & Coastal Forests CEPF Plant Assessment Project & Bösenberg, J.D. 2010. Encephalartos hildebrandtii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41931A10603165. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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