Cycadales > Family Zamiaceae > Subfamily Encephalartoideae > Tribe Encephalarteae > Subtribe Encephalartinae.

There are over 60 species of Encephalartos, all native to Africa.

Palm-like plants with some up to a few metres tall while others have no visible trunk.
Most produce suckers at the base.

The leaves are spirally arranged and interspersed with small scale-like leaves.
The petiole bases are usually swollen and some have a coloured collar.
They are once divided into leaflets that are inserted on the sides of the midrib near the upper surface.

Leaflets are spiny, stiff, green, grey or blue-green and are narrower at the base.
Young leaves have simple or branched hairs.
There is no midrib but numerous, roughly parallel branching veins.

Plants are either male or female and both sexes produce cones with spirally arranged sporophylls.
The female cones are on stalks and the male cones may or may not be.
Both sexes can have up to 3 or 4 cones at a time and the female ones can be very large.

Male microsporophylls have microsporangia, opening via slits, on their undersides except near the tips.

The female megasporophylls are simple with a swollen tip and 2 (3) unstalked ovules attached to the upper surface.
In both sexes the tips of the sporophylls can be flattened, or faceted like a gemstone, but they never have a spine.
The seeds have a red, yellow or brown fleshy outer layer.