Encephalartos natalensis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

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.
2003 Near Threatened (IUCN 2003)
2003 Near Threatened
1997 Rare (Walter and Gillett 1998)

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.
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal)
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.
Population Trend: Decreasing

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

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).

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. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 01 April 2015.
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