The Gymnosperm Database


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Encephalartos transvenosus

Stapf et Burtt-Davy

Common names

Modjadji's palm, Modjadji's cycad; tshifhanga, mutAontolo tshitontolo (Palmer & Pitman 1972).

Taxonomic notes


Tree, "up to nearly 40 feet (about 12 m) tall, with a thick trunk deeply scored in the typical netted pattern of the cycads, and with a crown of fairly straight, shiny green, spiny leaves up to 8 feet (2.4 m) long. The leaflets are broad, the middle ones up to about l 1/3 inches (roughly 3.3 cm) in width, often slightly curved, and toothed on both margins. Those at the base are reduced to prickles.

"Two to 4 cones are borne together and these are large, and the female, the biggest - roughly 31 inches (79 cm) in length - are massive, weighing up to 75 lbs. (34 kg) and are very handsome in the heart of the big green leaves. The seeds are a brilliant orange-red, and the thin fully ripe flesh surrounding the kernels is relished by the children of the village" (Palmer & Pitman 1972).

Distribution and Ecology

South Africa. "Modjadji's palm ... grows in the mountains of the northern Transvaal, and particularly on two hills in the location of Modjadji, the celebrated rain-queen, near Duivelskloof. This tall majestic tree has been protected by generations of rain-queens and now forms pure forest on the hills, the only cycad forest in Southern Africa" (Palmer & Pitman 1972).

Big tree

A specimen in Modjadji Nature Reserve, Northern Province, South Africa was measured at 12.2 m tall (Robert Van Pelt pers. comm., 2003.11.24).





"The name transvenosus means "transverse veins" and refers to the fine network of veins between the main parallel veins which can be seen when a leaf is held up to the light" (Palmer & Pitman 1972).


See also

Jones 1993.

Whitelock 2002

Last Modified 2017-12-29