Cycads in the wild

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JenB
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Cycads in the wild

Unread post by JenB »

I am wondering whether there are other forumites interested in cycads? I have searched this website and cannot find any postings. It would be a great opportunity for anyone going on walks or any secluded areas to photograph these rare and endangered plants in their natural environment - or what is left of it.

Just an extract from a website about it:
"The last, exceptionally large, surviving cycad specimen of the Mariepskop variety of Encephalartos laevofolius has been hacked apart in a fouled poaching attempt last week. This population is now almost extinct in the wild. Several more plants of the small cycad population were decimated, hacked or uprooted. It is believed a joint operation between the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, the local police and the Air Force Base in Hoedspruit interrupted the attempted robbery." Read the story
Here


There is a great need for these plants to be protected because most of the few plants still battling for survival in the wild can be thousands of years old.

I'm also very interested to know if anyone has some nice species in their gardens? (Permitted plants only, please!)

Just wondering - any more "passionates" out there?
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Unread post by arks »

Hi Jenb!

I am fascinated by cycads, but have only seen (and photographed) them at Kirstenbosch. Since I live in the USA, my opportunities are a bit limited :wink: I think I've also seen a giant cycad in a hothouse at Kew Gardens in London. And aren't there a lot of them at the "establishment" of the rain queen in Limpopo — or is that just theme park hype?
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Unread post by Jeanus »

I am lucky enough to see lebomboensis in the wild on a regular basis
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Unread post by JenB »

Hi Arks and Jeanus,
You must be referring to Modjadji kraal where Encephalartos transvenosus or Modjadji palm, as commonly, known grows quite freely (just because they are being watched! 8) )
The tribe of the Rain queen used to make bread from the core of the stems and from there the Afrikaans name Brood boom (Bread tree).
We went on a 25km walk a while back to see one plant, Encephalartos lanatus, which has been proclaimed as a national monument - it is huge! (I will try to scan some photos to post).

Most of the plants remaining in the wild are the real Granddaddies but unfortunately, that's all we have left!
They only still occur in very remote and difficult terrain and their localities are being kept a secret.
Still they are being plundered.
It's a pity that these plants have to be removed from the wild to be replanted at places like Kirstenbosch for their own safety.
Driving through the more affluent suburbs of the cities you will see large, very rare plants in gardens.
I have to admit, I also have a few very rare species in my garden but they are all permitted and I have had some for about 30 years now.

Jeanus, please post some photos for us to see? That is very special! You are so privileged!
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Unread post by JenB »

There is no crime in owning a cycad. Contact the cycad society over here. I think it is quite a mission to reintroduce a single plant back into the wild, particularly if it's still small, it will most probably just end up in someone elses garden!

I would suggest that you have it permitted and enjoy it's company.
Nature conservation officials are trained to spot "stolen" plants.
You do not specifically need a permit for seedlings,only a letter from the person you bought it from or a reasonable explanation as to how it happened to be in you possession.
Then of course, they do grow!
So even if you own a single leaf seedling sooner or later it will have to be permitted anyway and the law provides for that.
I own a few plants which are very rare but they were cultivated and I legally bought them as seedlings or slightly larger plants with permits.
After many years in my garden and under ideal conditions they have become quite large (in cycad terms).
I think the "cycad law" is pretty much like the "gun law", they are keen to permit legal plants.

I am totally for pollinating "captive" specimens because the more legal plants on the market the smaller the market would be for "stolen" ones. That is why I search for pollen when any of my females happen to cone.

Cycads deserve the same protection as *** and elephant because they are even more rare.
Of the Encephalartos woodii there are no plants in the wild and no females what so ever.

Quote:

"Encephalartos woodii Sander
Family: Zamiaceae (Cycad Family)
Common Name: Wood's Cycad



Encephalartos woodii is a cycad famous for being extinct in nature, and for the fact that there is no known female specimen on Earth.

Only one clump of male plants has ever been found.
John Medley Wood (1827-1915) found this clump of four plants in 1895 on a steep south-facing slope on the fringes of the Ngoye forest about 30 km from Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal.
Medley Wood was a merchant sailor, farmer, trader, sportsman and botanist.
He founded the Natal Herbarium and was Curator of the Durban Botanic Gardens.
In 1903, Wood sent his deputy James Wylie to fetch some of the smaller offsets and three of them were grown in the Durban Botanic Gardens. In a 1907 expedition, Wylie collected two of the larger trunks, both of which are still to be seen on the Old Conservatory terrace in Durban Botanic Gardens.
In 1907 Wylie noted that the largest of the four trunks was badly mutilated did not expect it to survive.
He was right, by 1912 there was only one 3m tall trunk left in the wild, and in 1916, the Forestry Department, concerned about the survival of the remaining stem, arranged to have it removed and sent to the Government Botanist in Pretoria.
It is thought that this trunk subsequently died in 1964."
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Cycads in the wild

Unread post by Scorpy »

Hi Jenb
I was browsing the forum and came across this thread which caught my beady eye.
I think it is shameful that unscrupulous dealers / collecters / thieves steal these wonderful "dinosaurs" from their natural habitat, thus making our natural heritage so much poorer in the process.
I have had a small collection of about 17 cycads (13 different species) for up to 20 years (some plants newer than others) and i have to admit that they are the most amazing and rewarding plants i have ever come across.
Some of mine are permitted, but i have to do the rest - hopefully it will go quite smoothly as the sellers are still traceable. Five or six of my plants are adult and regularly come into cone. Probably of most importance is a male Lanatus which finished coning for the 1st time a couple of months ago.
Should you be interested, we could arrange to swop pollen & other info when appropriate. In fact, i have a plant coning now for the first time - still early in the process so can't be certain of gender - so will make sure of it's species & let you know should you be interested.
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Unread post by JenB »

Hi Scorpy,

Absolutely interested! :D :thumbs_up:

I fully agree with you, they just are such amazing plants!

Just an update: I have 326 seeds from the Msinganus and expect that at least 280 to be pollinated. It is quite a long but simple and very rewarding task to grow them from seed. I would gladly give you some tips if you would like to try. Also bear in mind, you can freeze the pollen for anything up to 5 years or even longer, so you might consider doing that encase you happen to come across a female.

You are very luck to have a Lanatus thats old enough to cone, they are very rare! :D
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Cycads in the wild

Unread post by Scorpy »

Hi again Jenb (& the others)
My 2 Lanatus plants are my favourites together with a lovely Lehmanii.
I was fortunate that a colleague visited a friend of hers and noticed these 2 bedraggled and lice ridden Lanatus plants in bags at the bottom of his garden.
She brokered the deal & i walked away with these small plants for R50 each about 17 years ago.
Now i wouldn't accept R1,500 each...they are very pretty plants.
SO & i recently went to KNP and while in the Lowveld went to Nelspruit Botanical Gardens.
It is the best i have ever seen (but saw Kirstenbosh when i was a kid about 40 years ago so don't remember it much) and they have a wonderful cycad garden with hundreds of mature plants over a massive area.
I at one time did make enquiries re swopping pollen & seed, but i think i was over optimistic as to when my plants would mature. I think that the time is now right.
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Unread post by Scorpy »

It is really humbling to see mature plants of such stature in the wild (even if only pictures) which does give hope for our grandchildren to be able to experience such wonders of nature. :mrgreen:
BTW...how are your Msinganus seedlings doing?
It is so rewarding to grow from seed, don't you agree?
I have been dabbling a bit with Clivias - encouraged by a friend / colleague who has about 600m2 of shaded greenhouse with only cycads & clivias.
He has quite a few exotic species and has been cross-pollinating them for a number of years now.
He showed me some pics yesterday - i did not know that there are so many variations.
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Unread post by JenB »

Hi Scorpy,

It's a pitty that most people do not realize that they are part of a such great natural heritage.

I am very excited because this coming Monday will be the day.
We are booked for a guided tour in Marakele to see the cycads.
It's is actually quite difficult getting someone to take one to the plants because of the theft risk.
I will take lots of pics and will post them here. :wink: Hope we can get real close!

Unfortunately the seeds are just seeds still but I think they will be germinating pretty soon.
Most seem to be pollinated but we will only know once they actually grow.
I have a few more of unknown variety I picked up in my brother's garden, we will see what happens, I just might be lucky.
You are so right! It is very rewarding indeed!

I have tried my hand at clivias as well and my garden is full of seedlings.
I even had a few flowers from them during this last season.
There are many different varieties and they are all truly beautiful.
Oh, I'm :mrgreen: of the 600m2 of shaded greenhouse!
But I've successfully grown my clivias in the shade of the tree.
Just one word of advice: Make a frame and cover it with shade net to keep the plants under.
We have many Hadidas and Thrushes in the garden and they head straight to the seedlings digging for worms.
They more often than not mistake the roots for worms and fly off with the seedling! :lol:
That goes for both cycads and clivias!
I lost many before I realized where they went!
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Unread post by Scorpy »

Hi Jen
It seems to me that the Eugene-maraisii is a solitary plant on the hillside - it must have been the result of a seed being dropped there by a passing bird (or dinosaur?!?!). 'Tis quite interesting how nature works, isn't it?
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Unread post by JenB »

Hi Scorpy,

Lanatus is a beautiful cycad, I have to agree. It's really special seeing them in the wild. :D

The Eugene-maraisii in the photo is a solitary plant, unfortunately, because I believe they were viciously plundered in years gone by. The few that still remain are in totally inaccessible areas and that is their saving grace and they are being well protected, which is great!

It's wonderful to know that there is after all someone out there who do appreciate the fact that cycads are a rare gem on the verge of extinction!

Thank you for visiting this thread! :clap:
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Re:

Unread post by Leopard-cub »

Hi JenB,

I wonder if you or any one can help me, :hmz: I am looking for the Kruger cycads, meaning all the cycads that grow wild in the Kruger.

I love cycads, me and my friend have about 215 cycads and need about 15 species then we have every specie.
Just sad they broke in at his place and stolen a lot of your "big boys" some of them were 1,5meters. :evil:
They stole all your rare ones 31 in total in 1 night. :twisted:

If some one know were they are in the Kruger it will mean a lot to me if i can see them in Kruger. It will be a dream come true. :pray:

Thanks
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Good day all the KRUGER lovers!!!
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Re: Cycads in the wild

Unread post by JenB »

Hi Leopard-cub,

Unfortunately the black market for cycads is such that they are just not safe anymore, haven't been for a long time. :( The only ones that are left are growing in such inaccessible places which makes poaching, not impossible, but difficult.
For that reason their locations are a strictly guarded secret.
Best is to scan the area at lookout points and along the road and you just might be lucky?
My cousin has made it his life goal to photographically document each and every specie that is still found in nature and some of his photographs are heartbreaking to see, huge plants removed and left to die because they were to heavy to carry.
He has seen plants in most of the National parks, recently Addo, but he will not part with the info, not for love or money.
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Re: Cycads in the wild

Unread post by Scorpy »

Hi Jen
I have to admit that they sicken me, & i would love to see the culprits behind bars for many years. :sniper:
I think our legislation is way too lenient towards this type of crime, but it is impossible to police the few remaining sites where cycads & other endangered flora grow "free".
Many years ago i had the privilege of hiking in an area above Waterval Boven where Lanatus plants grow on the side of a hill.
The veld had just been burnt, and there was new growth on all the established plants and quite a few new seedlings were popping up.
I was sorely tempted to take a few seeds, but the farmer had requested we leave them untouched, which i reluctantly did.
I am so glad now that i followed the more difficult course of action 'cos i think that if i had taken seed & grown them, i would have felt guilty every time i looked at the plants. :roll:
I was also glad to see that your cousin is very secretive about cycad locations. :thumbs_up: ....it is just a pity that everyone misses out on seeing them in order to protect them from the :twisted: few !!
.....if you always do what you've always done,
you'll always get what you always got.....
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