Cycad Conservation

Cycads, a class of ancient cone-bearing plants, are all restricted from international trade. Many are known to be critically endangered by encroaching human development as well as the activities of unscrupulous collectors.

Lotusland cares for representatives of nearly 200 species of cycads including three plants of Encephalartos woodii, which is now extinct in the wild. Today, offspring of the last plants to be collected in 1905 in South Africa survive only in botanic gardens and a few private collections.

While still occurring in the wild, E. latifrons has been widely collected and reports from independent sources indicate that it is no longer producing seed because of the distances separating remaining plants in South Africa.

E. paucidentatus is from a very small area of Mpumulanga, South Africa and neighboring Swaziland.

E. munchii from Mozambique is in a similar situation of restricted range and coupled with political instability its future in the wild is unknown. While propagated plants are becoming more common, the wild-collected specimens at Lotusland represent valuable germplasm from the native range. Lotusland’s four plants could contribute to future conservation efforts.