Yellowish cones; long-stalked seed cones; dentate leaflets with teeth crowded to the base on the lower margin.

Plants arborescent; stem 2 m tall, 30 cm diam.

Leaves 100-150 cm long, light or bright green, highly glossy, flat (not keeled) in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 180° on rachis); rachis green, straight, stiff or gently curved, somewhat lax, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with more than 12 prickles; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets reducing to spines.

Leaflets lanceolate, strongly discolorous, not overlapping, not lobed, insertion angle horizontal or obtuse (45-80°); margins flat; upper margin heavily toothed (more than 3 teeth); lower margin heavily toothed (more than 3 teeth); median leaflets 7-18 cm long, 15-35 mm wide.

Pollen cones 8-10, narrowly ovoid, green or brown, 20-22 cm long, 6-8 cm diam.

Seed cones ovoid, green or brown, 30-35 cm long, 18-20 cm diam.

Seeds oblong, 23-35 mm long, 16-25 mm wide, sarcotesta red.

Distribution & Habitat

This cycad has been recorded as growing in several localities in both Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda. The colony that the Palm & Cycad Society of Australia visited was at Moyo in Northern Uganda, close to Sudan's southern border. Interestingly, the colony occurs less than 100 kms. from the newly described E. macrostrobilus in the Madi district in the far north of Uganda.


The main cycad colony we (Palm & Cycad Society of Australia) visited consisted of about 200 mature plants, however there are several other colonies around the town in the hills and this cycad is relatively common in the area, and does not appear be endangered in any way. Thie climate is hot and dry and the plants grow on low hills amongst granite boulders in full sun. This is a medium sized cycad which has adapted to the harsh growing conditions.

Regular fires in the area have blackened many of the larger stems. Limited seedling regeneration takes place because of the hot dry conditions and the frequent grass fires. Sometimes the mature plants become deciduous for a time and rarely do they carry their leaves for a second season. The dead leaves hang down a form a skirt.

In habitat, Moyo, northern Uganda

In Cultivation:
This cycad grows well in cultivation. As a seedling, it often loses its previous year's leaves before the new leaves emerge. The seedlings need plenty of room for the tap root to develop and require very good drainage. It will grow in partial shade, however best results are obtained growing the seedlings in full sun. They do best in a tropical or sub-tropical climate. They are unlikely to be bothered by cold, however heavy frosts would probably be fatal.


References & Acknowledgements:

  • Image - Ken Hill
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
  • Palm & Cycad Society of Australia



Encephalartos septentrionalis