One of the strangest plants I’ve ever seen is Encephalartos horridus. It really was an opposite of the flora I admired in the glasshouse of Florence botanical garden .Which of course does not mean it is not to be admired. Perhaps even more, as it belongs among cycads, one of the real archeo-biological divisions, originating back in Jurassic period.Which fascinates me the most, is the fact, that looking at this plant one gets so many years back in evolution ,becoming a witness of past times.The very next thing coming up to my mind at that point is, how possibly looked all the others , by now extinct , plants from that time? Certainly a good reason not to let this one vanish in next years!
Cycads belong to the biological division Cycadophyta. The three extant families of cycads are Cycadaceae, Stangeriaceae, and Zamiaceae. Though they are a minor component of theplant kingdom today, during the Jurassic period, they were extremely common. They have changed little since the Jurassic, compared to some major evolutionary changes in other plant divisions.from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycad
This cycad is listed as an endangered species by the 2003 IUCN Red List, a change from its vulnerable listing in the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. Historically it was over-collected in the wild but widespread availability in commercial nurseries has reduced some of this pressure.
|Eastern Cape Blue Cycad|
|Encephalartos horridus (Jacq.) Lehm. from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encephalartos_horridus|