"The leaflets are of medium width, up to about 1/2 inch (roughly 13 mm) at their base, tapering to the pointed tips, the middle ones with 13-21 veins on the under surface. They are usually untoothed and are fairly widely spaced. Those at the base are reduced to prickles. ... Young male cones, 2 or several together, were collected but the female remain unknown" (Palmer & Pitman 1972).
South Africa: near Lydenburg in the eastern Transvaal (Palmer & Pitman 1972).
Nearly extinct in the wild due to poaching; now too widely dispersed for natural reproduction to occur (Jones 1993).
"This cycad recently gave botanists of the Botanical Research Institute in Pretoria one of the botanical shocks of the decade when they investigated a report of a new species near Lydenburg in the eastern Transvaal.
"Knowing how unlikely it was that so large, unusual, and distinctive a plant as a cycad should have been overlooked - and in an area familiar to botanists - they were prepared to find the rumour false. On the contrary, it was true. It was a new species, a bushy tree branched from the base, the stems up to just over 10 feet (3 m) tall, spreading or reclining, with a crown of long silvery leaves. It was the angle of the lower leaflets of these, curving downwards, and the graceful spreading of the long tapering upper leaflets which, according to Dr Dyer, at once set this apart from other cycad species. ...
"The farm on which the cycad was found was named 'Onverwagt' - 'Unexpected'. What could Dr Dyer call the new cycad but Encephalartos inopinus, 'the unexpected encephalartos'?" (Jones 1993).
Last Modified 2012-11-23