Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos natalensis
Species Authority: R.A.Dyer & I.Verd.
Common Name(s):
English Natal Cycad, Natal Giant Cycad

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Donaldson, J.S.
Reviewer(s): Agenbag, L. & Bösenberg, J.D.
This species has declined in certain parts of its range. The overall population decline is estimated to be <30% over the past 60 years based on repeat photographs and visits to subpopulations. It could be listed as Vulnerable if overall population numbers drop below 10,000 (C1) or if the extent of decline increases from the current level up to 30% or higher.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2003 Near Threatened (NT)
1998 Rare (R)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs from the Qumbu and Tabankulu areas of the northern part of the Eastern Cape, through most of KwaZulu-Natal up to the upper catchment areas of the Mkuze and Umfolozi rivers near Vryheid in South Africa. Has a wide altitudinal range being recorded from 200 up to 1,200 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal)
Number of Locations: 10-12
Lower elevation limit (metres): 200
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1200
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are numerous subpopulations scattered throughout its range, with numbers of mature individuals though to be between 8,300 and 12,000.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 8300-12000
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occurs on cliffs and steep, hot and dry slopes in scarp forests. Plants grow on cool south-facing cliff faces, in forest or are exposed. E. natalensis occurs close to the coast in certain areas, but more commonly further inland.
Systems: Terrestrial
Generation Length (years): 70

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Some subpopulations have been impacted by collecting and bark harvesting for medicinal purposes. For example, the plants at the type locality at Monteseel have been debarked resulting in mortality.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. Populations occur in the following reserves: Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, iGwala-Gwala (Natural Heritage Site), Rendsburg Cycad Colony (Natural Heritage Site), Mgwahumbe (Natural Heritage Site) and Hope Valley (Natural Heritage Site).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical 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
3. Energy production & mining -> 3.2. Mining & quarrying
♦ 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

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Goode, D. 1989. Cycads of Africa. Struik Winchester, Cape Town.

Goode, D. 2001. Cycads of Africa. D & E Cycads of Africa, Gallo Manor, Johannesburg, South Africa.

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).

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 natalensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41937A10605143. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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