Almost all African cycads are extremely rare and are afforded the highest level of protection available to plants. They are relics from the dinosaur age and exist in the wild as tiny remnant populations often found on a single hill or mountain and often on the edge of extinction.
In nature, the plants are pollinated by tiny insects, (weevils) that are specific to that particular plant. Once the weevil dies out pollination stops and the colony of plants is doomed to extinction. This has happened in several colonies in central Africa.
Some of the African cycads are so rare that very few photos of the plant exist. Encephalartos Woodii has been described as the rarest plant in the world and has been extinct for over 100 years in nature. It was named from a single plant discovered in 1897 and all examples of this plant found in cultivation are off-shoots from the original male plant. There are 2 specimens of Encephalartos Woodii in the Cycad Gardens of Eudlo collection.
Encephalartos Equatorialis exists as a relic population in Southern Uganda on a single rock outcrop. The pollinator in the colony is lost and these cycads are destined to go extinct in nature. For a number of species of the rarest African cycads, the Gardens have produced the first viable seed ever available in Australia and on some species probably the first viable seed ever.
Cycads have a reputation for being slow growing, however, many of the Central African species grow vigorously in South East Queensland and mature in 7 to 10 years.