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Encephalartos gratus

   (Family: Zamiaceae)
   
English: Bread Palm  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 2.5m
Rarity Status:
Vulnerable
   
Preferred position:
Full Sun
 
Flowering time EDIT
                       
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
 
 
 
Leaf texture Smooth
 
 
Leaf size 180 - 260mm
  Leaf info EDIT
  Evergreen
  Palm-like leaves are 120-200 cm long, made up of leaflets 18-26 cm long, thick, dark green, and very shiny. The petioles and trunk of the tree are covered with rigid, sharp spines.
 
 
 
 
Seed colour
Red
  Seed size Length: 40mm   Width: 20mm
  Seed info EDIT
  Plants in this family are either male or female, producing pollen cones (30-40 x 5-10 cm) or larger seed cones (55-65 x 15-20 cm) respectively. Seeds form on the seed cones only, and are oblong (30-40 x 14-20 mm) and bright, lipstick red.
 
 
Description EDIT
This is a large species of cycad, which grows like a tree with a trunk about 2.5 m tall and 60 cm in diameter.

Plants in this family are either male or female, producing pollen cones.
Growing EDIT
Because plants are dioecious (single sex), and their natural pollinators, probably a species of beetle which do not occur in many areas, Encephalartos gratus will only set seed if a gardener intentionally pollinates the female plant with pollen from a male.
Distribution EDIT
These plants are native to a very limited area of north-western Mozambique and south-eastern Malawi.
History EDIT
The name "Encephalartos" comes from the greek words for "Head" and "Bread" referring to the edibility of the plant.
Uses EDIT
Seeds of some Zamia species are eaten by indigenous people. Typically they are ground into flour and baked into a type of starchy bread.
Similar to the roots and trunk of most cycads though, they are fairly toxic and require special processing to make them safe to eat.
Ecology EDIT
Because this species has such a limited range, and is so highly sought after as an ornamental plant, it was added to 1997 IUCN Red List of threatened plants, limiting its collection and trade.
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References

 
  • Staples, G. W. and D. R. Herbst. 2005. A Tropical Garden Flora: Plants cultivated in the Hawaiian Islands and other tropical places. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, Hawai`i.  
 
 

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