The Wild Cycad Conservancy

Protecting the world’s most threatened plant species from extinction in South Africa


Supporting conservation of the Critically Endangered Lillie Cycad


WCC has been working with Limpopo conservation authorities (LEDET) and the Selati Wilderness Foundation to conserve the Lillie cycad (Encephalartos dyerianus), which occurs almost entirely on a single hill.

An estimated 350 reproductive plants remain in the reserve created to protect them. If they are lost to poaching, the world will lose yet another cycad species.


A key success factor for the survival of the Lillie cycad has been the deployment of guards to protect them. WCC has supported the Selati Wilderness Foundation and LEDET in securing IUCN funding for the protection of the site in the short term and will continue to provide support for longer term solutions. 

Monitoring the population of the Lillie cycad is also essential to inform conservation actions. WCC commissioned and funded a survey in 2023 to continue the monitoring that was previously undertaken by LEDET. These surveys have been undertaken since the early 1980s and provide invaluable insights into population trends. As examples, monitoring data show that seed viability has consistently been very low (less than 1%) and that re-introduced seedlings have not yet reached maturity after 40 years!

E. dyerianus has beautiful blue-green leaves and a green cone, quite different from E. eugene-maraisii which has a chocolate brown cone. The pinnae also reduce to prickles and go down into the apex of the stem. 

These factors impact on conservation and recovery plans and WCC has initiated and supported research projects to investigate reproductive failure and ways to increase survival and recruitment when seedlings are introduced to bolster the population. 



The Wild Cycad Conservancy (or WCC) takes a three-pronged approach to cycad conservation.