|A large stem of Encephalartos woodii at the |
Durban Botanic Gardens
|Encephalartos woodii range
Encephalartos woodii, Wood's cycad, is a rare
E. woodii is
Encephalartos woodii was first described by Wood as a
Distribution and habitat
The only known wild plants of E. woodii were a cluster of four stems of one plant discovered by Wood in 1895 in a small area of
Removal from natural habitat
A basal offset of the main stems was removed and sent to
While extinct in the wild, Encephalartos woodii specimens are found in many botanical gardens, institutions and collections around the world, with an estimated 500 individuals in existence, all clones of the original specimen. For an Encephalartos cycad, E. woodii is relatively fast-growing and vigorous in cultivation.
Two of the larger trunks that Wylie collected in the 1907 expedition are still to be seen in the Durban Botanic Gardens.
Despite numerous excursions in the oNgoye-Mtunzini area, no other specimens of Encephalartos woodii have ever been found. All known specimens of Encephalartos woodii are clones of the only known male plant which was completely removed from the wild. For these reasons, the plant is considered extinct in the wild.
As is the case with all members of the genus Encephalartos, Encephalartos woodii is protected by both national and international legislation:
In South Africa one requires a permit from Nature Conservation to move, sell, buy, donate, receive, cultivate and sell Endangered Flora and to own adult cycads. On an international level all species and hybrids of Encephalartos are on
Reproduction and propagation
Unless a female plant is found, E. woodii will never reproduce naturally. This species is known to form fertile hybrids with E. natalensis, and a backcrossing technique can be used: if each offspring is subsequently crossed with E. woodii and the process is then repeated, after several generations, female offspring will be closer to what a female Encephalartos woodii would be like. However, genetic analysis of chloroplast DNA of F1 hybrids between E. woodii and E. natalensis showed that all chloroplasts are inherited from the female E. natalensis, indicating that multigenerational hybrid offspring would have E. natalensis chloroplasts and could never be "pure" E. woodii.
Distribution of hybrids
Several hybrids between E. woodii and other species of Encephalartos have been produced including:
- Encephalartos gratus x E. woodii at Lotus Land, California.
- Encephalartos natalensis x E. woodii at Orto botanico di Palermo in Italy, and in various collections in South Africa and the United States.
- Encephalartos transvenosus x E. woodii in collections in South Africa and the United States.
- Encephalartos arenarius x E. woodii at Aloes in Wonderland, California.
- Encephalartos horridus x E. woodii at Aloes in Wonderland, California.
The bark of the specimen planted in Kirstenbosch botanical garden
Male cone of Encephalartos woodii
Male cone of Encephalartos woodii compare to human
Portion of a leaf showing leaflets
The last two stems of Encephalartos woodii at oNgoye in the early 1900s
One of the original stems at the Durban Botanic Gardens
Original stem at Durban Botanic Gardens, 2010
Offshoots (suckers) showing roots developing on the largest one
A female E. natalensis x woodii with cones
Encephalartos natalensis x E. woodii hybrid at Orto botanico di Palermo
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