There are two distinct forms of E. ghellinckii – the robust montane form occurring at altitudes of 1100 to 1800m in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg and a lowland form which occurs at lower altitudes in the foothills of the Drakensberg in the catchment of the Umkomaas river. These cycads grow on steep, grassy slopes and on rocky outcrops, in full sun. The leaves are up to 1 metre long in both forms, having the same leaf texture and a light green to dark green colour. The stems are up to 3 meters tall which may well be thousands of years old.
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