- Category: Plants
Medium-sized to large cycad with an erect trunk to 6m tall and 60cm diameter,usually solitary, with new suckers produced from the base.
Coppery, brown or reddish, covered with fine white hairs.
Numerous, erect to spreading, 2-3m long, bright green and glossy, shallowly vee-ed in cross-section, straight in profile. Cones: Markedly dissimilar.
3-15 per stem, 20-50 x 5-9cm, narrowly cylindrical, erect, greenish yellow to yellow, occasionally reddish.
1-4 per stem, 28-70 x 15-25cm, broadly oblong to barrel-shaped, greenish yellow to yellow, occasionally reddish.
Distribution and Habitat
Occurs in Tanzania and Kenya, where it grows in near-coastal and coastal districts, including the islands of Zanzibar and possibly Pemba. This species grows in sparse dedicuous forests on sands soils and in exposed positions in savannah grassland from sea level to about 600m in altitude. The climate is hot and humid in the summer and mild and dry in winter. The rainfall is 1000-1400mm per annum, falling mostly in summer.
E. hildebrandtii was described in 1874. Local natives prepare a flour from the boiled and dried seeds, and in times of scarcity the starchy part of the trunk may be prepared as a gruel or porridge. In this species the male cones emerge and mature in succession rather than all at once. Some colonies of this cycad have reddish rather than yellowish cones. It can be recognised by its rigid, straight, erect leaves with the leaflets pointing towards the leaf apex. The forked leaflet apices, of at least the plants found in coastal parts of Kenya are also characteristic.
Suited to tropical and subtropical and warm temperate regions. A vigorous, handsome species which will grow in a sunny location or semi-shade. Plants require free and unimpeded drainage and protection from frost.