Encephalartos equatorialis


A large plant with dark green stiff leaves and very thick, straight, dentate leaflets overlapping upward (incubous), especially towards the leaf apex, with more than 3 teeth on each margin and a single spine on the tip. The leaves are similar to E. hildebrandtii, but the leaflets of the latter are thinner, falcate and curving away from the leaf apex, overlapping downwards (succubous) and with 3 spines on the tips. E. ituriensis, is also similar, but with thinner, well-separated leaflets (also falcate and curving downwards). Cones of both are yellow rather than the green of E. equatorialis, and considerably larger. Dark green ovoid cones are like those of E. bubalinus but with wrinkled facets on the megasporophylls.

Plants arborescent; stem 6 m tall, 40-60 cm diam.

Leaves 300-400 cm long, dark green, highly glossy, flat (not keeled) in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 180° on rachis); rachis green, straight, stiff, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with more than 12 prickles, spine-free for 0 cm; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets reducing to spines.

Leaflets lanceolate, strongly discolorous, overlapping upwards, not lobed, insertion angle acute (less than 45°); margins incurved; upper margin heavily toothed (more than 3 teeth); lower margin heavily toothed (more than 3 teeth); median leaflets 20-26 cm long, 20-26 mm wide.

Pollen cones 5, narrowly ovoid, green, 30-40 cm long, 9-10 cm diam.

Seed cones 1-3, ovoid, green, 36-40 cm long, 18-20 cm diam.

Seeds flattened-ovoid or oblong, 35-38 mm long, 23-30 mm wide, sarcotesta red or orange.

Distribution & Habitat

Southern Uganda, around Jinja, and Lake Victoria. Habitat is exposed granite outcrops.

Culture: Sunny, moist, but well drained position. Vigorous grower.



Plants are threatened by cultivation, and don't appear to be regenerating.

References & Acknowledgements:

  • Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

  • Images - Jan Anderson



Encephalartos equatorialis
Encephalartos equatorialis