Encephalartos altensteinii bilgi
A tall, large cycad with an erect or reclining stem sometimes reaching 6m in length, diameters vary between 35 to 45cm, growing singly or often in a cluster forming 2 or 3 stems, commonly known as a multi-head and produces basal suckers readily. This species may be difficult to identify due to subtle changes in characters and often mistaken for it's neighbouring sister E. natalensis. Female cones are yellow in colour and have a smooth texture, seeds are bright red. Hybridizes naturally with E. trispinosus, E. villosus, E. arenarius and E. latifrons.
Described in 1834, endemic to Southern Africa this cycad can still be found growing in the Eastern Cape Province and Transkei along the coastline from Alexandria to Umtata, inland as far north as the district of Stutterheim. It is found growing in various habitats, rocky hillsides, dense bush and in shade under tall trees. The bright green leaves are 1 to 2m long but in heavy shade the leaf colour changes to a dark green. Although not a rare endangered specie, a very popular cycad for any garden with it's majestic spread of foliage making this specie highly ornamental. Enjoys full sun and grows equally well in the shade, suited to warm to hot summers with cool winters and can tolerate light to moderate frost. Vulnerable.
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