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Tracy

It has been interesting to watch a transformation in the main caudex of this Encephalartos woodii hybrid (E arenarius x woodii).  After coning a couple of times, the last set of male cones came in late 2017 and are pictured below in early spring of 2018.  Eventually they reached a point where I removed them and thought this cycad would just keep on alternating between flushes and coning periodically.  It did have a large pup on one side which I eventually removed and is growing in its new home.  What happened over the next two years with where these cones had emerged is the interesting story.

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Tracy

Last Spring, the top of the caudex looked like it was going to flush, but then on the side I noticed another flush about to emerge where the most westerly facing cone had once been attached to the caudex.  The side flush was below the 2018 main flush, but significantly above the ground and previous flushes (first photo).  I cleaned things up so that the side flush wouldn't be too impacted by the flush above it, so now both the main growth point and the westerly growth point flushes could be seen (both photos June 2019).

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Tracy

Not surprisingly, that west facing side growth point again began to flush this 2020 spring, but the top "main" growth point still was not flushing although it does appear to be getting ready to do something whether flush or cone.  I was keeping an eye on the spots where the other two cones from 2017/18 had come off, because both of them have bulged with fuzz for over a year now.  I cleaned up the southeast side of the main caudex to accommodate conventional pup growing at the base of the caudex.  Yesterday morning I was looking at the basal pup's flush (which also has another pup coming off it) and could see that a second cone base was now turning into a growth point pushing it's own flush.  So in the second photo, you can see this new flush, and off to the edge of the caudex in this photo is where the original cone growth point emerged.

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Tracy

In this final photo, you can see both the new side growth point (left side above the basal caudex pup), and the bulge on the right side of the main caudex where the third and northerly cone once was attached.  I suspect that it will flush, whether this year or the next and I will have 4 growth points on this main caudex.  Structurally, it's beginning to resemble a short stocky Aloidendron.   I'm hoping it remains balanced so it doesn't tip over.  You can see how the main caudex leans to the west now, which was due to the large pup I removed.  That pup was basically pushing against the main caudex as both wanted to reach to the sky.  I'm guessing this is the Encephalartos woodii in it's genes that is resulting in this growth behavior because I don't recall seeing Encephalartos arenarius do something quite like this.  Yes I have seen E arenarius with basal offsets, but not above the ground offsets.  Maybe I just have seen enough E arenarius or have noticed it before on large specimens but I'm interested if anyone else has seen this with arenarius.  Same question with other woodii hybrids, have others seen this frequently?

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GeneAZ

My really large arenarius made a "head sucker," as they're called in South Africa.  I also have a large lehmannii and two horridus that have done this, as well as a very large trispinosus.  I don't like aerial branches like this, as they reduce the aesthetic appeal, in my opinion.  Usually, I keep the leaves removed a couple of months after each flush so the main plant looks more symmetrical.  I don't cut the whole branch off since the wound would be too ugly to me, so I'd rather have the lump with the leaves removed.

Aerial branches are notoriously hard to root if you try it.

 

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Merlyn2220

That's really wild, I haven't seen that happen myself.  I've seen ones like Cycas Revoluta respond to physical damage by splitting into multiple trunks, I have a triple-header that grew that way because a branch fell on it and nearly crushed it.  I haven't had a lot of coning in my collection, almost everything I own is still fairly young.  It looks like the cones grew in the "normal" spots in the center, and then the cone location was pushed down on the side by new flushes of regular leaves.  But for some reason the cone location stayed alive and became a new grow point instead of just healing or scabbing over.  Does that seem like an accurate description? 

I wonder if the new grow point had something to do with how or when you removed the old cones?  Did you cut them off when they were still alive, or when they dessicated and fell apart?  Did you leave a chunk of the cone stem in place, or cut them off flush? 

Either way as long as it stays relatively symmetrical (so it doesn't fall over like you mentioned) that would make this potentially really wild.  Since you already have healthy pups I'd be inclined to let it go and see what happens.  If it keeps flushing out of all growth points that could end up branching and being a really unique specimen!

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Tracy
17 hours ago, Merlyn2220 said:

That's really wild, I haven't seen that happen myself.  I've seen ones like Cycas revoluta respond to physical damage by splitting into multiple trunks, I have a triple-header that grew that way because a branch fell on it and nearly crushed it.  I haven't had a lot of coning in my collection, almost everything I own is still fairly young.  It looks like the cones grew in the "normal" spots in the center, and then the cone location was pushed down on the side by new flushes of regular leaves.  But for some reason the cone location stayed alive and became a new grow point instead of just healing or scabbing over.  Does that seem like an accurate description? 

I wonder if the new grow point had something to do with how or when you removed the old cones?  Did you cut them off when they were still alive, or when they desiccated and fell apart?  Did you leave a chunk of the cone stem in place, or cut them off flush? 

Either way as long as it stays relatively symmetrical (so it doesn't fall over like you mentioned) that would make this potentially really wild.  Since you already have healthy pups I'd be inclined to let it go and see what happens.  If it keeps flushing out of all growth points that could end up branching and being a really unique specimen!

At this point I'm not removing any of the new flushes, so I'll see what it does.  The third cone spot still hasn't popped out a flush but it is a bulging woolly spot.  I waited until the cones were desiccated to remove them, the same way I have removed cones from my other male plants although none of them has done anything like this.  If it remains symmetrical, it could be interesting or it could turn into a tangled mess.  I've become much more aggressive about removing old leaves on cycads with pups to give room for new growth to emerge.  Like Gene I prefer the cleaner look of a solitary caudex, but some cycads just don't want to cooperate.

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Tracy

A little different pupping issue with this Encephalartos inopinus. It produced it's first pup at about a 1 1/2" caudex.  Since then the main caudex is kind of getting lifted up as pups push up from ever direction under the original main caudex.  Its like it is floating on top of the small offsets.  Most of those have been pushing or are starting to push out new small flushes while the main is still building up energy.

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