One of the special collections at The Manie van der Schijff Botanical garden is our cycad collection, which has its very own Curator, one of only four collections at the University receiving such special care.
This collection currently comprises over 500 individuals and encompasses around 200 species from 9 genera. We have an almost complete collection of the Southern and Tropical African species of Encephalartos, and a growing representative collection of exotic genera such as Macrozamia, Cycas and Zamia to name a few.
The collection is also of historic interest as accessioned material was collected over decades under the Department of Botany (now Plant Science), which has been the leader in cycad research over the past half century, with numerous theses produced on the group.
No discussion of the collection is complete without mentioning the contribution of the previous Curator, Ms. Susan Myburgh, who managed the cycads for decades, established the nursery at the Experimental Farm and who is largely responsible for the great diversity of these special plants held in trust by the Botanical Garden.
The collection also boasts many undescribed and potentially novel material with research ongoing by its current Curator Arnold Frisby, who completed his Masters degree on the Griqualand centre of Endemism at North West University.
The cycad and indigenous plant nursery on the experimental farm plays an integral part of the conservation effort on these endangered plants, with our specialist worker Daniel Bilankulu an integral role player. Our accessioned motherstock is artificially propagated and sold (every Thursday) at below market value prices to help stem the tide of collectors demand. We also provide assistance to the general public with identification, permitting, pollination and propagation of species.
Below please find an article on the collection and cycad nursery published in Tukkie magazine in 2010.