This cycad currently grows in the Blyderivierspoort reserve – Mpumalanga, mostly in full sun on east and north-eastern facing cliffs. The bluish-green leaves are up to 1m long, with stems mostly subterranean reaching approximately 20 cm in height.
“Blyde River Cycad
Encephalartos cupidus is a species of cycad that is found in the Limpopo Province, South Africa at elevations of 700 up to 1,500m. It is a very attractive, desirable, frost-hardy, dwarf, multi-stemmed cycad with its usually subterranean stem and blue green leaves, suitable for temperate to tropical areas. E. cupidus survives very well in deep soil, full sunlight and is drought-tolerant.
It has a subterranean stem which grows up to about 150 mm long and 150 mm in diameter. E. cupidus normally produces many suckers of 10â€“15 per stem. Leaves are rigid, 0.5â€“1.0 m long, blue green and curved downwards near the apex. Median leaflets are about 100â€“150 mm long and 10â€“16 mm in diameter. The leaflets are leathery, without nodules and armed with 3 or 4 pungent teeth on both margins. Leaflets margins are not thickened or recurved and the apex is pungent. Basal leaflets decrease in size to a series of spines.
Male and female plants produce one cone, which is bright apple-green, per stem per season. Male cone turns to yellowish at maturity, is 180â€“300 mm long and 50â€“80 mm in diameter. Male cone starts to shed pollen during Januaryâ€“March. Female cone is 180â€“200 mm long and 120â€“140 mm in diameter. Female cone starts to break off during Mayâ€“July to produce about 120 seeds.
The specific epithet cupidus is derived from the Latin, and means desirable or highly attractive.
|full sun||blue-green||very low watering||average growth||frost-hardy||uncommon|
Encephalartos cupidus can be easily propagated from seeds and suckers. It is a drought-tolerant, frost-hardy, and does well in the full sun.
To grow from seed, place cleaned seeds on their sides half buried on washed sand or a potting mix, and kept at about 28°C. The medium must be kept moist, but not too wet, for as long as it takes to germination. As soon as the radicals of the sprouted kernels are 10â€“20 mm long, they can be planted singly in bags containing potting soil or some other suitable medium. One must wait until the seedlings develop one or two leaves before transplanting them individually into bags. Because of the long taproots cycad seedlings form, one must use tall, narrow, perforated, black, plastic bags of about 240 Ã— 120 mm in size, for their initial establishment. Seedlings must be placed under shade for the first few years of growth and development. Initially the seedlings must be watered daily with a fine spray. After about a month, as their roots elongate, the frequency of watering should be decreased to about once a week. The seedlings can be transplanted into the garden when they are 3â€“5 years old.
When preparing to propagate from suckers, the soil should be dug away carefully to expose the base of the sucker where it joints the stem of the mother plant. One must use a clean, sharp knife or sharp spade to remove the sucker from the mother plant. Leaves of the sucker must be removed to reduce dehydration. The wound must then be treated with a fungicide and dried for about a week before planting the sucker into a sterile medium. The best time for removing suckers from the mother plant, is in spring and early summer, when the climate is warm for the quick establishment of the new plant.
Troublesome pests include scale insects, beetles and chewing insects. Scale insects cause great damage to cycad leaves by sucking the sap from them. Most scale insects can be controlled with regular and frequent applications of a horticultural soluble oil, such as white oil. Beetles seriously damage cycad plants by attacking the emerging young leaves. Control can be kept by application of contact or systemic insecticides, or one of the bacterial preparations available.”
Source / credit: https://africacycads.com/cycads.php