Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Encephalartos Arenarius x Horridus

E. arenarius x E. horridus
I purchased this cycad hybrid at Jurassic Garden in Los Angeles, California in April 2011. Here is a description provided by various Cycad resources:  
Encephalartos arenarius x horridus has the attractive leaf characteristics of the Encephalartos arenarius, but its color is influenced by the silvery-blue leaves of Encephalartos horridus.

E. arenarius is endemic to the Coastal Dune Forest in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, in the Alexandria area.  Also known as the Alexandria Cycad, E. arenarius is a medium-sized cycad, with a trunk to about 4-5 ft. long, either erect, or reclining. E. arenarius requires excellent drainage (i.e. sandy soil), and prefers light shade or moderate sun. It should be protected from frost.

Much of the coastal Dune Forest in and around Alexandria has been cleared and lost to pastures. This has resulted in E. arenarius losing its habitat. The accessibility of the habitat and the relative ease with which plants can be removed from the sandy soil, have made E.arenarius an easy target for destructive collectors. Truckloads of plants were illegally removed with the result that E.arenarius has now become fairly rare in nature. The population size of E. arenarius is estimated to be 850-1,500 mature individuals. 

E. arenarius qualifies as Endangered under criterion A of the  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to continuing decline in the number of plants and the extent of habitat. 

E. horridus has been described as one of the most unusual of all the South African species. It has been over-collected in the past, but sufficient quantities are now available in nurseries to reduce some of the pressure on wild populations.  Horridus is Latin for bristly, dreadful, horrible - appropriate to its appearance, with its heavily armed leaves. E. horridus is a very distinctive South African cycad which has been known to botanists for almost 200 years.  Its very characteristic leaves always make an impression on people who see it for the first time, as is evident from its name. 

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