This cycad is known in only three localities in the Northern Province. They grow in hot, dry riverine valleys on south-eastern facing quartzite cliffs. The leaves are blue-grey, held erect to spreading with the apex recurving slightly, 1.1 – 1.2 m long. Stems are up to 4m tall.
Encephalartos hirsutus is a species of cycad that is native to Limpopo Province, South Africa. It was recorded from three separate localities on south-east-facing quartzite cliffs in the Makuya Nature Reserve bordering the Kruger National Park at altitudes ranging from 800 to 1 000 m.
The trunks of Encephalartos hirsutus are decumbent and up to 3.5m or rarely 4.2m long. It is 350mm to 400mm in diameter with persistent leaf bases with a golden, densely tomentose (hairy) crown, turning greyish with age.
The numerous leaves are arranged in a dense crown, glaucous, subsessile and rigid with recurved apices. They are 1.1m to 1.2m (-1.4m) long. The petiole is bulbous at the base, tomentose (hairy) and up to 130mm long. The rachis is tomentose, becoming subglabrous with age.
The pinnae are inflexed, with entire margins and the veins are raised on the abaxial surface. The leaflets are directed towards the apex of the leaf at an angle of about 40° to each other. The upper margins overlap with the lower margins of the adjoining leaflets. The basal leaflets are gradually reduced in size but not to a series of spines. The median leaflets are 130mm to 170mm long and 20mm to 24mm wide, narrowly elliptic and somewhat sickle-shaped, gradually acuminate with acute and pungent apices. They are decurrent (turning downward) basally on the rachis with the apices somewhat turned towards the leaf apex.
The cones are dimorphous, waxy bluish-green, glabrous and with smooth scale facets. Up to 5 male cones per stem were seen. They are narrowly ovoid, about 500mm long and 90mm in diameter with peduncles about 120mm long. The exposed faces of the median microsporophylls (male cone scales) are rhombic, about 29mm wide, 30mm long and 7mm high, with the central facet flat or slightly concave. The female cones are ovoid and 1 to 3 per trunk were observed. They are about 400mm long and 350mm in diameter, appearing sessile but with a peduncle up to 60mm long, hidden amongst cataphylls in the trunk crown. The median megasporophylls (female cone scales) are rhombic with four lateral and one central facet, about 50mm wide, 44mm long and 15mm high with the central facet a third of the horizontal diameter of the bulla. About 200 seeds are produced per cone. The sarcotesta is orange-red and the kernel is 30mm to 35mm long and 15mm to 18mm in diameter, ellipsoid in shape, round and smooth.
|full sun||blue||low watering||slow growth||frost-resistant||rare|
E. hirsutus can be treated much the same as E. eugene-maraisii, E. dolomiticus, E. dyerianus and E. middelburgensis, given that the species are related and have a similar habitat. Like all cycads they prefer well drained soils. Plants grow well in full sun. Propagation is by seed.”
Source / credit: https://africacycads.com/cycads.php