Natal Grass Cycad, Stangeria eriopus

Stangeria eriopus is a species of cycad plant commonly named natal grass cycad. The species belongs to the Stangeriaceae family. Stangeria eriopus is the only species named to the Stangeria genus. This plant is native to the coast of South Africa and southern Mozambique. It is found within 30 miles or so of the sea.

Unlike most cycads, the Stangeria eriopus has veined, fern-like leaves. Grown in forest habitats with an abundance of rainfall the plant exhibits large wide leaves. When inhabiting a drier grassland area the plant has short leaves with a thick cuticle. This is believed to be a fire tolerance adaptation.

Stangeria eriopus uses its stalked cones as reproductive organs. Male and female cones are specific to each different plant. The cones pollinate through insects and a faint odor is given off to draw in pollinators.

The species currently faces threat of extinction. Habitat loss and harvesting could cause the population to continue to dwindle.

Image Caption: Natal grass cycad, (Stangeria eriopus). Credit: Erroldo/Wikipedia (public domain)