Ituri Forest cycad, Encephalartos ituriensis

The Ituri Forest cycad (Encephalartos ituriensis) is a cycad species plant. The species belongs to the Zamiaceae family. The plant’s common name is descriptive of the species’ native homeland, the Ituri Forest area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. E. ituriensis can be found among the grasslands of two large, isolated granite hills.

E. ituriensis can reach heights of almost 20 feet tall. Its trunk has a diameter of approximately 19.70 inches. The palm-like species has large, dark green leaves. The leaf’s surface is glossy and smooth on the top and its underside is a lighter green with a matte finish. Leaflets taper with several teeth along the margin and curve inward.

E. ituriensis is a typical cycad, which is a dioecious species. This means the plants are either distinctly male or female. Male pollen cones can be found in clusters containing between 2 and 4 cones. Its cones are narrow and egg-shaped. Female cones are found individually or can be found in pairs. The pollen cones are ovoid (egg-shaped) as well and measure between seven and 7.88 inches. Female cones have red seeds and produce nectar.

Image Caption: Cycad female cone with red seeds at LotusLand in Santa Barbara, CA. Credit: Sharktopus/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)