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PlantFiles: Zululand Cycad
Encephalartos ferox

Family: Zamiaceae
Genus: Encephalartos (en-sef-uh-LAR-tos) (Info)
Species: ferox (FER-oks) (Info)

Synonym:Encephalartos kosiensis

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is fire-retardant
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Stuber On Dec 9, 2008, Stuber from Fernandina Beach, FL wrote:

Grows well but slowly both in Tampa and in the coastal Jacksonville, FL area with some protection. Also looks best with some protection from blazing hot sunshine. Available on a limited (but pricey) basis in Florida from some growers.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Mar 26, 2006, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

ferox has sailed through two San Francisco bay area winters and is a deep lush green. It may be common in subtropical areas but it is not common here,-and should be!...faster growing than the easier to find Dioons or Macrozamias. It does look best in part shade as pointed out by palmbob.
2012: Still doing fine. The winter of 2007 and the unexpected sharp 32f of December 2011,didn't affect it. It is still a slow growing plant,but faster then most cycads. Cycad people know what I mean. I have seen them with 4-6' fronds on large old plants and with neon orange far,mine has about 3' fronds..and larger by the year.
2013: The California freeze of Jan 2013? NO problem in the bay area. And just looks as exotic as ever. No doubt in the top ten list of norcal cycads.

Positive palmbob On Sep 26, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is one of the faster growing and easy to find (and cheaper) Encephalartos available in cultivation. It is popular because of it's interesting, yet very sharp, spiny, wide, deep green leaflets, and the firey red reproductive cones they produce. It is one of the few Encephalartos that prefer not to be grown if full, blazing hot sun (leaves will blanch), though it will survive and grow faster in that situation.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Hayward, California
Port Hueneme, California
Reseda, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Torrance, California
Tulare, California
Visalia, California
Brandon, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Cayce, South Carolina

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