Distinguished among the central African species by the stiff dark green leaves with falcate, well-spaced, dentate leaflets that curve towards the leaf apex and carry more than 3 teeth on each margin. The teeth on the lower margin are also well-spaced rather than crowded to the base. The bluish-green cones with smooth scale apices, the sessile seed cones and the long-stalked, often pendulous pollen cones are also distinctive.

Plants arborescent; stem 4 m tall, 35-40 cm diam.

Leaves 310-410 cm long, dark green, highly glossy, slightly keeled (opposing leaflets inserted at 160° on rachis); rachis green, gently curved, somewhat lax or straight with last third sharply recurved, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with 6-12 prickles, spine-free for 13 cm; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets reducing to spines.

Leaflets lanceolate, strongly discolorous, not overlapping, not lobed, insertion angle horizontal; margins flat; upper margin heavily toothed (more than 3 teeth); lower margin heavily toothed (more than 3 teeth); median leaflets 23-30 cm long, 20-28 mm wide.

Pollen cones 1-5, narrowly ovoid, green or yellow, 50 cm long, 9 cm diam.

Seed cones 1-3, ovoid, green or yellow, 45 cm long, 35 cm diam.

Seeds ovoid, 30-35 mm long, 25-30 mm wide, sarcotesta red.


Distribution & Habitat

Only found along the Mpanga River, Western Uganda.



Honoring Loran Whitelock of Los Angeles, California, well-known contemporary student and collector of cycads. Described in 1995 by South African horticulturist P.J.H. Hurter.

References & Acknowledgements:

  • Image - Jan Andersson
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney



Encephalartos whitelockii