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E. latifrons

E. Latifrons. Described in 1837 endemic to Southern Africa occurring in the Eastern Province this specie must surely rank as the most beautiful of all the Encephalartos species. This small to medium cycad can be found growing among rocks and on slopes among dense shrub, the climate is hot in summer and cool to cold in winter and tolerates light to moderate frosts. The erect stems reaching 3m tall and 35cm in diameter with its olive green foliage with orange brown “ballet skirt” of dead leaves is a spectacular sight. Only found in the Bathhurst and Albany districts this rare specie is an exceptionally slow grower with 2 or 3 years elapsing between bouts of new leaf production and even triple this time in cone production. The 1 to1.5m strong rigid bright, slightly glossy olive green leaves recurve towards the tip with a light brown or cream collar at the base of the rachis, the parallel veins on the underside of the leaflets are raised slightly giving the leaves a leathery look. Female cones are large barrel shaped, wrinkled with a pimply surface to the facets of the scales and bluish to green to olive green in colour while the seeds are red. This specie can easily be confused with the Arenarius growing in the sand dunes along the coastal regions but can be distinguished by its bright green leaves.

Example of an adult Latifrons

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