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Encephalartos senticosus

Encephalartos senticosusEncephalartos senticosus is also known as the Spiny Leafed Cycad. It was described in 1996 by South African botanist Piet Vorster. Because Encephalartos senticosus grows in the Lebombo mountain range, it was called Encephalartos lebomboensis for many years, until it was discovered that Encephalartos lebomboensis belonged to the western growing species, and that the eastern populations of these similar looking Encephalartos should be given a different species name.

Within the green-leaved species of KwaZulu-Natal Province, Encephalartos senticosus is distinguished by its short, straight, keeled leaves often with recurved tips and the lowermost 2-4 pairs of leaflets reducing to divided prickles with almost no bare petiole, and the lack of wool in its crown around newly emerging leaves. It is distinguished from Encephalartos lebomboensis by its broader leaflets and recurved leaf tips, and bright yellow to orange-yellow cones.

Its habitat is the northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and adjacent Swaziland, on rocky slopes or cliffs in dry shrubby scrub along the Lebombo Range. Its trunk grows to 12+ feet tall, with leaves from 3.5 to 5 feet long, glossy lance-shaped leaflets, much darker and shiny on the upper surfaces.

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Encephalartos senticosus