The Cycad Collection and Nursery

One of the special collections at The Manie van der Schijff Botanical Garden is the cycad collection, which has its very own curator (Mr. Arnold Frisby), one of only four collections at the University receiving such special care. This collection currently comprises over 1200 individual cycads, encompassing around 200 species from 9 genera. We have an almost complete collection of the Southern and Tropical African species of Encephalartos, and an ever-growing collection of exotic genera such as MacrozamiaCycas and Zamia to name but a few. The collection is spread out across three of the University campuses (Hatfield, Groenkloof, Onderstepoort), with Hatfield campus (Manie van der Schijff Botanical Garden) housing the bulk of the collection.


The Universities’ cycad collection has cultural, conservation related, and scientific significance. Cycads are a unique part of South African heritage, with our country representing one of the global diversity hotspots for this ancient group of plants. One of the first cycads (Encephalartos transvenosus) in the collection was donated by Queen Modjadji the third Over 100 years ago, and is a symbol of the importance of cycads to local culture. Another culturally significant cycad in the collection is the charismatic Encephalartos woodii, which is one of the rarest plants on earth, as only one male individual was ever found in the Ngoye Forest in KwaZulu-Natal. Cycads are generally considered the most threatened group of plants in the world, which are rare not only due to their often originally small population sizes, but also because of widespread and highly destructive poaching for horticultural uses. For this reason, the collection is used for active propagation, primarily through hand pollination, to produce thousands of seedlings. The collection is also a source of material for ongoing academic research, including topics such as gymnosperm sex determination, wood production, microbe symbiosis, and conservation translocations.

A large number of the cycads that are propagated at the Cycad and Indigenous Plant Nursery on the Hillcrest Campus (Experimental Farm), are available to be purchased by the public (permit number S 02555) on specific days. We also have at the nursery a large cycad pollen bank that can be accessed by the public at request. We at the nursery also provide assistance to the general public with identification, pollination and propagation of cycad species. Cycad material for research purposes can also be provided. The nursery also has an array of tree saplings, Aloe, and Clivia available for sale.

To make an appointment to visit the nursery, or to obtain pollen or material for research purposes, please send an email with your request to [email protected].  Please also like and follow our Facebook page ( to stay up to date with our activities and plants available for purchase.


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