Thursday, April 28, 2011

Encephalartos dolomiticus

In the 70's rumours started to circulate of populations of an Encephalartos sp. cycad in the Transvaal-Drakensberg region. At the time the region was unexplored (botanically at least) and information was limited. By the time collections were made for science, the information that could be gathered was extremely limited as the plant in question had almost ceased to exist in the wild. After years of anonymity, in 1988 the species was introduced to the limelight twice as competing papers attempted to put a name on the plant which eventually became known as Encephalartos dolomiticus.

encephalartos dolomiticus2

E. dolomiticus is an exceptionally rare cycad (I know I say that a lot - they tend to be exceptionally rare) but is closely related to some of the more commonly grown species, E. eugene-maraisii, E. lehmannii and E. princeps.

This is a specimen at RBG Kew. I suspect in nature it'd be a bit more glaucous blue than this, quite a lot of the cycads in the Palm House aren't as blue as they should be. Dwarfed as it is by everything else, I also suspect this is quite a big one. It's supposedly quite a weak grower forming short multiheaded plants. I look forward to someday seeing another and finding out what they look like in other conditions.

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