Encephalartos is a genus containing around 66 species of cycad plants which are all native to Africa. This genus is part of the Zamiaceae family of palm/ fern-like cycads. Plants in this genus are dioecious evergreen perennials. Dioecious plants produce male and female flowers on individual plants. They grow with an erect habit, producing large, arching foliage in a central, spreading crown at the top of a cylindrical, stocky trunk - superficially they resemble palms. Large leaves are divided into many leaflets, which have variable spines and/or slits along the edges. Reproductive organs are arranged on cone structures, these being male or female in individual plants. Males can be identified by their elongated cones which usually appear in groups of 3-4. In some species, the pollen of male cones has a nauseating scent when ripe - after dispersal they decay and release an odour likened to acetic acid. Female cones are produced singly or in clusters of up to 3. Cones are green, yellow, orange-red, grey or brown. Also known by the common names Bread Tree and Bread Palm, these refer to a starchy, bread-like substance that can be extracted from the middle of the stem and consumed as food. This ancient lineage of plants can be dated back to times when dinosaurs were commonplace on Earth! Due to overuse and overexploitation, all species in this genus are now endangered, some critically so. Therefore, there are restrictions on international trade of these plants for commercial purposes, scientific research being the exception.