Wood’s Cycad, Encephalartos woodii

Encephalartos woodii is a palm-like cycad plant species. The species is commonly known as Wood’s cycad. This particular species is one of the rarest in the world. It is fully extinct in the wild. Any plants of this species growing today are only clones.

E. woodii can grow up to heights of 20 feet tall. Its trunk measures from 12 to 20 inches in diameter. It thickens at the bottom and is topped by a cap of 50 to 150 dark green glossy leaves. The leaves are about 60 to 100 inches long with sickle shaped leaflets. The plant’s leaflets are only about 1 inch long.

E. woodii is dioecious, meaning that the cycad has separate male and female plants for reproduction. To date, no female plants have ever been found due to the rarity of the species.

The only known wild E. woodii plant ever discovered was a four-stem cluster of a single plant. The cycad was discovered in 1895 in the Ngoya Forest. The cycad was discovered on a south-facing slope on the fringe of the forest.

The E. woodii clones are currently distributed in various botanical gardens around the world. Despite numerous excursions in the region of original discovery, no other plants have ever been found.

Image Caption: Wood’s Cycad, (Encephalartos woodii) at Durban Botanical Gardens. Credit: Purves M./Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)