Encephalartos villosus hildebrandtii (A.Braun & Bouché) Henn.
Cultivated plant at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, FL USA
Photograph by: David Stang
Encephalartos hildebrandtii is an evergreen, palm-like tree with a stout unbranched bole covered with leaf scars and topped with a rosette of many, long leaves. The plant can reach up to 6 metres tall, though it is often much shorter. The dark green, arching, pinnate, leaves can be 3 metres long, the leaf stalk bearing about 80 pairs of stiff, tough
and leathery leaflets, 15 - 35 cm long[
The tree is used as an emergency food in times of shortage. The plant is often grown as an ornamental.
Habitat destruction as a result of urban expansion, coastal resort development, and agricultural expansion is having a direct impact on this species. Former large subpopulations of the species have been lost as result. The plant is classified as 'Near Threatened' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
Consumption of the seeds can lead to liver cancer[
East tropical Africa - Kenya, Tanzania.
Coastal evergreen bushland, lowland forest and dry montane rainforest on red loams and sandy soil, at elevations from sea level to 1,200 metres[
]. Sandy plains and rocky hill tops[
|Conservation Status||Near Threatened
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
An easily grown plant, happy in either full sun or shade, and adaptable to extremes of moisture[
The tree produces occasional suckers[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[
A flour is obtained from the trunk and used in times of famine[
]. The lower part of the trunk is peeled and chopped or sliced. The slices are either left in a heap or soaked in water for a week to ferment, then dried in the sun and pounded and sieved into flour. The flour is used to make uji or ugali[
Seeds - cooked[
]. The husks of the seeds are dried then ground into a flour and used in the preparation of a porridge known as 'Ugali', which is eaten as a staple food[
]. Eaten in times of food shortage, but now known to cause liver cancer[
]. The oblong seeds are 30 - 38mm long, 15 - 20mm wide[
Seed - it requires shade for successful germination[
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