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This is a very hardy, adaptable, relatively slow-growing cycad and suited to temperate and subtropical regions. This is one of the famous "blue" Encephalartos.
Several of the species possess stout trunks. The persistent, pinnate leaves are arranged in a terminal spreading crown, or ascending. The rigid leaflets are variously spiny or incised along their margins. Male cones are elongated, and three or four may appear at a time. Female cones are borne singly, or up to three at a time, and may weigh up to 60 pounds (27 kg).
The epiphytic genus Encyclia grows in lowland forests at altitudes up to 1000 meters.