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Merlyn2220

I was over browsing through ChuckG's collection of cycads and palms, and we ran across two unusual large Encephalartos.  This is one of the two, it was tagged with "Ituriensis" but both of us are pretty sure that's not accurate.  The leaf shape is wrong and the number of prickles are wrong.  However it is a big one, with 9-10' shade grown fronds with a 5-6" caudex.  So it's likely to be one of the "big green Encephalartos" or possibly a hybrid.  Any suggestions on an ID or possible parents?

  • Leaves have around 20-22 spines pretty much evenly spaced on the top and bottom of each leaf.  This is way more than Whitelockii (6-12) or Ituriensis (12-16) but similar to Laurentianus (12-20).
  • Tip is consistently forked with 3 spines near the end.
  • Leaves are more elliptical or Oblong/Ovate than they are lanceolate

The only description I can find of an Encephalartos with that large number of spines on the leaves is Laurentianus.  Superficially it looks a bit like one, but the others I have (also from Chuck) have more parallel leaves that are definitely not ovalized.  Here's a few photos:

Front and back of the mature leaves, grown in a lot of shade.  The reddish stuff on the top of the leaves is iron/manganese deposits from hard well water.

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Leaf detail on the new flush, these are about 2.5 feet tall today:

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Larger view of the new flush, caudex and 3 older fronds.  It's tied to a steel post I drove into the ground to support the Dendrocalamus Hamiltonii on the right of the photo:

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Tracy
8 hours ago, Merlyn2220 said:

Front and back of the mature leaves, grown in a lot of shade.  The reddish stuff on the top of the leaves is iron/manganese deposits from hard well water.

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Leaf detail on the new flush, these are about 2.5 feet tall today:

 

Leaflets are most similar to Encephalartos laurentiaunus of the ones you mentioned.  Relative to parallel versus oblong for any of the big green Central African cycads, a 5-6" caudex is still juvenile.  So the leaflets may change with subsequent flushes.  I had a stunted set of winter leaves push on the larger of my two E ituriensis, resulting in very different shape than on the smaller one which exhibits more "typical" adult ituriensis leaflets versus the larger/older plant's leaflets.  Neither plant is mature so I wouldn't be surprised if I see changes to them over time.  E ituriensis below, stunted leaflets on the larger plant, normal leaflets on the smaller plant and the smaller plant full profile.  So agree, your plant doesn't look like E ituriensis.

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Tracy

Next a pre-adolescent E laurentiaunus, still not mature to coning stage.  Some leaflet closeups and the still not adult caudex.  Last couple are from last year's flush in June/July.  Note the shape of the leaflets which are still unopened at the top of the leaf.  They have a long push up before any leaflets start opening.  My best guess is your question mark plant is in fact another E laurentiaunus, but perhaps others will now be emboldened to disagree and correct me.

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Merlyn2220
17 hours ago, Tracy said:

Next a pre-adolescent E laurentiaunus, still not mature to coning stage.  Some leaflet closeups and the still not adult caudex.  Last couple are from last year's flush in June/July.  Note the shape of the leaflets which are still unopened at the top of the leaf.  They have a long push up before any leaflets start opening.  My best guess is your question mark plant is in fact another E laurentiaunus, but perhaps others will now be emboldened to disagree and correct me.

20200608-104A6777-2.jpg

Thanks for the replies and the great photos!  I just checked on my other similar cycads, here's leaves from a December flush on a Laurentianus, also from Chuck.  It's just starting a flush now, but is only about 3 inches up out of the caudex at the moment.  This one seems to have around 16-18 spines on each leaf, but has the more classic elongated leaves.  These flushed in full sun (through 4pm) but were hardening off in the middle of winter.  The caudex on this one is around 8 inches.

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And this one is an Ituriensis/Whitelockii that flushed last summer and generally has around 8-9 prickles on each leaf.  Based on the number of prickles it's probably a Whitelockii, I don't know of any other way to tell them apart.

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And the new flush on that one with the caudex.  In a few days it'll probably be tall enough for me to compare it to my "unknown" type.

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Merlyn2220

The new leaves on my unknown are now pretty close to being hardened off.  These are approximately 5 feet tall and typically around 18-20 prickles per leaf in the middle area.  The bottom leaves definitely do reduce to pretty big 2-5 prickle spines.  Here's updated views of the whole plant:

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And the middle area of the larger leaf:

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And for comparison the known Laurentianus flush on the other side of the driveway with a new flush growing.  It's definitely a lot "furrier" than my unknown one, but it's probably an 8" caudex and is growing longer leaves too. 

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Nate (Nateture's Domain) was over dropping off some cycad purchases ~10 days ago and he thought it was probably an Ituriensis.  I'm still undecided, but for the size of the caudex the leaves are pretty long.  They are probably within the range of either species at this point, except for the large number of spines on the leaves.  I have another Whitelockii and another Ituriensis in pots, and I was thinking of planting a "triple" with them.  But I'm not sure if I want to plant a "triple" of Laurentianus + Ituriensis + Whitelockii.  Then again, maybe it would be the wildest "triple" in my yard...hmmmm....  :yay:  Any additional thoughts on ID?

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GeneAZ

E. equatorialis.

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Merlyn2220

Equatorialis would explain why it doesn't quite look like an Ituriensis.  I posted some photos on the FB group Cycads and most felt it was a relatively immature Ituriensis, just on the "high side" of number of spines.  Some of those spines may disappear as the plant matures. 

Chip Jones suggested Kisambo, which does make a bit of sense too due to the leaf shape.  Kisambo also has 2-3 big spikes near the base of the leaf on the top side.  As Kisambo matures they lose almost all the spines, which I don't see happening at this size. 

Nate was 100% certain it was not a Laurentianus due to the way the leaves are opening during the flush.  In the below photo my known Laurentianus has leaves that open in an alternating zig-zag pattern where they are overlapped.  In Ituriensis and Whitelockii they open in a straight "V" formation without the overlap.  Here's my Laurentianus flushing now, you can see how the leaves curl back towards the center as they open.  I drew an arc on one to highlight the recurved shape.  Nate said that was a guaranteed characteristic of Laurentianus.  I've not heard that description before, but it does seem consistent on my 4 Laurentianus. 

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Here's a contrasting photo of my "unknown" plant with the clear "V" shape on opening.  You can also see that V shape in my original post on the 2nd and 3rd photos.  Unfortunately I do not have an early flush photo of the unknown to do a direct comparison with the above Laurentianus.

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