Stangeria eriopus is a very different looking cycad. So different that when it was first discovered in 1939 it was thought to be a type of fern. S. eriopus originates from South Africa on the eastern cost. There are two distinct forms, one growing in the open grasslands and one growing as an under-story plant in forested areas. The photos on this page are of the forest variety. This type produces a caudex at the surface or below the soil. Stems grow up to ten inches in diameter, and produce a distinctive white "wool" at the leaf bases. The leaf petiole has no spines or prickles. Leaf margins of S. eriopus can vary even on the same plant, being entire (smooth), serrated, or lobed. The forest variety produces leaves which can reach a length of 6 feet. In contrast the grassland variety produces shorter and fewer leaves. Leaves grow one at a time producing a "bush" of 3 or more leaves. The female cone is ovoid, or egg shaped, while the male cone is elongated and narrow. Female cones can yield as many as 100 seeds. S. eriopus is fast growing. Plants will cone in as little as five years from seed. Grows best in filtered light. Keep protected from hot direct sun. Prefers well drained soil, but moist. Protect from frosts. Excellent plant for a greenhouse or conservatory.