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The Modjadji Cycad

Encephalartos transvenosus, The Modjadji Cycad

Encephalartos transvenosus<br>The Modjadji CycadEncephalartos transvenosus, the Modjadji cycad, is a magnificent giant, the tallest and largest of South African cycads, growing up to 40 feet tall over time (centuries!). The name "transvenosus" comes from its transverse veins, a tiny crosswork of veins visible when its leaves are held up to light.

Encephalartos transvenosus can be found in 3 different forms, the last forms are considered more rare:
1. Modjadji
(classic form native to the Modjadji Nature Reserve north of Tzaneen) Click here to enlarge Jesse Durko's great habitat photo
2. Soutpansberg (the fishtail form native to the Soutpansberg Mountain Range, about 50 miles south of South Africa’s northern border), and
3. Wolkberg (with long sickle-shaped leaflets that often form an “S-curve”, native to the Wolkberg Mountain Range near Trichardtsdal).

The main “Modjadji” population of Encephalartos transvenosus in the Modjadji Nature Reserve is named for the Modjadji, the Rain Queen of the local Balobedu tribe. Queen Modjadji is said to have the power to make rain.

Encephalartos transvenosus habitat features dry, frost-free winters and warm humid summers. Its dark olive-green leaves can grow to 8 feet long, usually straight, with a slight curving near the outer edge, leaflets straight, with a slight curve at the ends. Encephalartos transvenosus grows well in direct sun (humid heat climates) and filtered light (dry climates) and benefits from good drainage.

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Encephalartos transvenosus
The Modjadji Cycad