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Encephalartos Sclavoi

HabitatThe Cycads

Steep, relatively dry, south-facing rocky slopes in glassland, at elevations averaging 1800 - 2100 m (5900 - 6900 ft). Rainfall is reported as high falling mainly in summer.


Tanzania, north-eastern part of the country, western Usambara Mountains, Tanga district, Gologolo near Lushoto.

The existence of Encephalartos sclavoi was known for many years before it was described botanically. In January 1986 a French student of cycads, Jean-Pierre Sclavo, while prospecting for plants in Tanzania, recognized it as worthy of description. His notes and herbarium specimens were turned over to Aldo Moretti of the University of Naples, Italy, leading to the description of E. sclavoi in 1989.

Encephalartos sclavoi is one of the most distinctive and handsome cycads of eastern central Africa. The broad leathery leaflets, with their strongly revolute margins and downward overlapping arrangement, make it easily identifiable even in the absence of cones.

Encephalartos sclavoi is a most rewarding plant in cultivation. Its beauty and ease of horticulture make it one of the finest cycads for use in the garden. Even though the habitat of E. sclavoi is close to the equator, the high elevation at which at occurs gives it a remarkable degree of cold tolerance. It can also be grown in full sun without its leaves burning. As a garden plant, this cycad will usually hold two or three crowns of leaves, all in good condition.

The conservation status Encephalartos sclavoi at first appears to be secure. Colonies are large, and regeneration in habitat is prolific, with many seedlings and immature plants in evidence. This could change rapidly, however, because the habitat is located in a prime forestry and agriculture area. The climate in the area is mild, because of the elevation, and is considered one of the finest areas in which to live in Tanzania. An increase in human settlement and subsequent change in land use could cause conservation problems for this cycad.

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Cycad International | 61 Morris Road, Katherine, Northern Territory, 0850, Australia
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