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Encephalartos woodii

Wood’s cycad

About the plant

Only one specimen of Encephalartos woodii has ever been found in the wild. It was discovered on the edge of South Africa’s Ngoye Forest in 1895.

  • Extinct in the wild

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • Medicine
    Plant or components of this plant are used in medicine
  • Click on icon to reveal more

Facts

  • Extinct in the wild
  • One of 306 cycad species
  • Male cones are orange
  • Cones can be 1.2m long

Lonely male

The only specimen found in the wild was discovered by the English botanist, John Medley-Wood (for whom the plant is named).

All Wood’s cycads in cultivation are clones of that last wild specimen, so all are male.  They only produce the pollen-bearing male cones.

Kew’s specimen arrived in 1899, it coned for the first time ever in 2004. Exciting as this was, it takes ‘two to tango’, so the quest for a female continues.


Fossils

Cycads dominated Earth’s landscape until the Jurassic Period, 200–150 million years ago. Cycad fossils have even been found in what we now call Antarctica.


Giant genome

Encephalartos woodii has the biggest genome of any cycad. If you were to unravel all the DNA from just one cell it would stretch 20m. That’s ten times bigger than a human genome.

Cycad fossils have been found in Antartica
  • Extinct in the wild

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • Medicine
    Plant or components of this plant are used in medicine
  • Click on icon to reveal more