The Eastern Cape Blue Cycad (Encephalartos horridus) is a small, low-growing cycad up to 0.9m (3 ft) high and 0.9m (3 ft) wide. It is a native of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, and found in arid shrublands, most commonly on ridges and slopes with shallow soils. The species is particularly known for its distinctly blue-gray leaves, although the degree of coloration can vary significantly. The species name horridus is Latin for 'bristly', after the plant's stiff, spiny leaflets.
Identification[עריכה | עריכת קוד מקור]
Mature plants have big stems of between 0.5-1m (20-50 inches) in length and 20-30cm (8-12 inches) in diameter with the majority of the stem growing below ground. Leaves are up to 1m (50 inches) long and often sharply recurved towards the tip, looking stiff and spiny. Younger leaves are a silvery-blue colour but turn green with age.
Cones are usually brownish- or blackish-red and single with a dense layer of fine hair. Both male and female cones are produced. The female cone is egg-shaped and up to 40cm (16 inches) long and 20cm (8 inches) in diameter while the male cone is largely cylindrical narrowing towards the ends up to 40 cm long (16 inches) and 12cm (5 inches) in diameter. Seeds are roughly triangular with three flattened surfaces.
Distribution[עריכה | עריכת קוד מקור]
Naturally occurring Eastern Cape Blue Cycads can only be found around Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage districts of Eastern Cape, South Africa, which has a warm climate year round, average annual rainfall in the range of 250mm (10 inches) to 600mm (25 inches) and summer temperatures up to 40 °C (104 °F). It prefers full sunlight and persists in a range of habitats including Karoo scrub, sourveld, deep fertile soil and open rocky ridges.
Eastern Cape Blue Cycads are now available as a result of commercial distribution in nurseries and gardens throughout the world.
Ecology[עריכה | עריכת קוד מקור]
Cycads have few natural enemies, however in the wild they can be subject to predation from animals such as porcupines, baboons and certain insects. Although the Eastern Cape Blue Cycad can reproduce by suckering, more commonly reproduction requires insect pollination. Once seed cones have been pollinated seeds are spread by animals that eat the fleshy cones.
גידול[עריכה | עריכת קוד מקור]
כמו הצמחים מסדרת הציקסינים גם ה:the Eastern Cape Blue Cycad גדל האופן איטי. הוא מגיב היטב לקרקע עמוקה ועשירה ברקבובית. מתאים לגידול באזורים סוב-טרופיים. היא סובלת גם מעט קור, אך דורשת שמש מלאה, אינה צורכת יותר מדי מים