From the council


Minutes of the CSSA Council


Passing of Philip Rousseau

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Philip Rousseau’s friends, family and colleagues at the Manie van der Schijff Botanical Garden, University of Pretoria where he was the Junior Curator and Head of indigenous plant propagation – after his sudden passing over the weekend – Philip was a very active contributor to the field of cycad research and published a number of articles in the CSSA journal, Encephalartos.

Philip Rousseau

Philip Rousseau



Publication of the Draft Biodiversity Management Plan for the Eleven Critically Endangered and Four Endangered Encephalartos (Cycad) Species

Kindly take note that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has published the BMP for 11 critically endangered and 4 endangered Encephalartos species under Section 43(1)(b)(i) read with Sections 43(3) and 100 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004.

Members of the public are invited to submit to the Minister of Environmental Affairs (Ms Edna Molewa), within 30 days of the publication of the notice (5 June 2015), written representations on, or objections to the draft BMP directly to Ms Humbulani Mafumo via either of the following methods:

The Director-General

Department of Environmental Affairs

Attention: Ms Humbulani Mafumo

By hand: 473 Steve Biko RoadArcadiaPretoria
By post: Private Bag X447Pretoria0001
By fax: 086 541 1102
By email:

You are kindly requested not to submit any comments to Strategic Environmental Focus (SEF), but directly to the DEA.

Please ensure that your comments reach the DEA before the closing date, Monday, 6 July 2015 (counting of 30 days, when excluding the public holiday on 16 June).

Please note that for ease of reference, a copy of the draft BMP is attached to this email, however, you may also download it from the following link:

SEF would like to thank all stakeholders for participating in the process of developing the Draft BMP and trust that you will provide your continued input as part of the official DEA engagement process.

Please contact Ms Mafumo with any further queries.



Passing of Professor Nathanaël Grobbelaar


Professor Nathanaël Grobbelaar

Professor Nathanaël Grobbelaar
27 July 1928 – 4 January 2015

It was with great regret that we received the news of the passing of Nathanaël Grobbelaar on 4 January 2015, previously professor and Head of Department (1958-1986) of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry and later of the Department of Botany, University of Pretoria. He also held the Bertha Stoneman Chair from 1959-1985 at UP. Our deepest condolences go to his family, colleagues and friends. He is survived by his spouse, Hanneke, four children and eight grandchildren.

Prof Grobbelaar was born on 27 July 1928 and obtained his matric at the Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth. He received a bursary for being the top scholar in the Eastern Cape and later obtained the degrees BSc in Chemistry and Botany at the University of Rhodes cum laude and MSc in Plant Biochemistry (1952) also cum laude, at the University of Pretoria. He was awarded the prestigious Rockefeller Fellowship and left for the USA where he obtained his PhD in 1954 in Plant Biochemistry at Cornell University. The results of Prof Grobbelaar’s research on the biosynthesis of amino acids, including pipecolic acid, as well as his novel work on nitrogen exchange of cyanic bacteria and plants, can still be found in today’s main international textbooks. He also became an internationally recognised scientist for his work on the metabolic regulation of various plant metabolites, especially poisonous compounds, as well as for his cycad research.

He served on various professional international boards and commissions, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association pour l’Etude Taxonomique de la Flora d’Afrique Tropicale, the American Society of Plant Physiologists, and the Botanical Society of America. Prof Nat was president or chairman of various organisations, including the International Union of Biological Scientists, The South African Journal of Science, the Professional Advisory Board of the SA Council for Natural Scientists, the SA Association of Botanists and the Cycad Society of South Africa. He was also a founding member and first editor of the SA Journal of Botany, which is now a highly rated international journal.

Prof Grobbelaar received several awards and prizes for his research contributions, including the Junior and Senior Captain Scott medal and the Havenga Prize of the SA Academy of Science and Art. He is one of the few SA researchers to be included in the Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World. He was the author and co-author of more than 185 articles in scientific and popular journals and 12 books, including the well-read ‘Cycads; with special reference to the southern African species’.

His logical, objective, rational and enthusiastic approach to research was an exceptional gift. His honest, open and straightforward opinion on any matter was often a talking point amongst his colleagues. He frequently played pranks on his colleagues and could recount these episodes with much humour. Prof Nat’s favourite quote (by Louis Pasteur) was probably:

“In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.”

Prof Nathanaël Grobbelaar was an exceptional leading mind, role model and inspiration for many natural scientists, young and old.

Marion Meyer
Professor of Botany
University of Pretoria

Professor Nathanaël Grobbelaar

Ons het met groot leedwese van die afsterwe op 4 Januarie 2015 van Nathanaël Grobbelaar, voorheen professor en Hoof van die Departement (1958-1986) Plantfisiologie en Biochemie en later Departement Plantkunde, Universiteit van Pretoria, verneem. Hy het ook van 1959 tot 1985 die Bertha Stoneman Leerstoel by UP beklee. Ons innige simpatie aan sy familie, kollegas en vriende. Hy word oorleef deur sy vrou, Hanneke, vier kinders en agt kleinkinders

Prof Grobbelaar is op 27 Julie 1928 gebore en kry sy matriek aan Pearson Hoërskool in Port Elizabeth. Hy ontvang ‘n beurs vir die beste student in die Oos-Kaap en verwerf sy BSc graad cum laude in Chemie en Plantkunde aan Rhodes Universiteit en MSc in Plantbiochemie (1952) ook cum laude van die Universiteit van Pretoria. Hy word die gesogte “Rockefeller Fellowship” toegeken en vertrek na die VSA, waar hy sy PhD in Plantbiochemie aan die Universiteit van Cornell kry. Die resultate van sy navorsing op die biosintese van aminosure en veral pipekoliensuur, sowel as sy oorspronklike navorsing op stikstofuitruiling tussen cianobakterieë en plante, word vandag steeds in die belangrikste internasionale handboeke aangetref. Hy word ‘n internasional erkende wetenskaplike vir sy werk op die metaboliese regulering van verskillende metaboliete, veral giftige verbindings, sowel as vir sy broodboomnavorsing.

Hy dien op verskeie internasionale rade en kommissies, insluitend die “American Association for the Advancement of Science”, die “Association pour l’Etude Taxonomique de la Flora d’Afrique Tropicale”, die “American Society of Plant Physiologists” en die “Botanical Society of America”. Prof Nat was president of voorsitter van verskeie organisasies, insluitend die “International Union of Biological Sciences”, “The South African Journal of Science”, die Profesionsionele Adviserende Raad van die SA Natuurwetenskaplikes, die SA Vereniging van Plantkundiges en die Broodboomvereniging. Hy was ook ‘n stigterslid en eerste redakteur van die SA Tydskrif vir Plantkunde wat internasionaal hoog aangeskrewe is.

Prof Grobbelaar het ook verskeie toekennings en pryse ontvang vir sy bydrae tot navorsing, insluitend die Junior en Senior Kaptein Scott medaljes en die Havengaprys van die SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. Hy is een van die weinige SA navorsers wat in die “Maquis’ Who’s Who in the World” verskyn. Hy was die outeur en mede-outeur van meer as 185 artikels in wetenskaplike en populere tydskrifte en 12 boeke, insluitend die welbekende Broodbome – met spesiale verwysing na die Suider-Afrikaanse soorte.

Sy logiese, objektiewe, rasionele en entoesiastiese benadering tot navorsing was ‘n besondere gawe. Sy eerlike, openhartige en reguit opinies oor enige aangeleentheid was dikwels onder bespreking deur sy kollegas. Hy het sy kollegas dikwels poetse gebak en kon dit dan met fyn humorsin oorvertel. Prof Nat se geliefkoosde aanhaling is waarkynlik die een van Louis Pasteur:

“Op die gebied van die waarneming, bevoordeel die geluk alleen die voorbereide gees”

Prof Nathanaël Grobbelaar was ‘n uitsonderlike en leidende gees, rolmodel en inspirasie vir menige natuurwetenskaplikes jonk en oud.

Marion Meyer
Professor in Plantkunde
Universiteit van Pretoria


Passing of Loran M.Whitelock

It is with profound sadness that the CSSA joins the rest of the cycad world in paying tribute to Loran M. Whitelock who passed away yesterday morning (27 May, 2014). Our thoughts and prayers go to Loran and his friends. You will be missed.

Loran Whitelock

Loran Whitelock


Vote on the Constitution of the CSSA

Posted: March 2014


ToPS regulation amendments

Please familiarise yourselves with these proposed ToPS regulation amendments. Download these two PDF documents and use the references in the table below to peruse the regulations with respect to cycads.



References for the pages relevant to Cycads Page 108 Para’s 2, 3 and 4
Critically Endangered Cycads Page 151 and 152
Endangered Cycads pages 165, 166, 167
Vulnerable Cycads Pages 182, 183
Protected Cycads Pages 216, 217
Posted: 2013


Prohibition of trade in certain Encephalartos species

  • Notice 382 of 2012 1– National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (10/2004): Prohibition of trade in certain Encephalartos (Cycad) species
  • Notice 382 of 2012 2– National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (10/2004): Prohibition of trade in certain Encephalartos (cycad) species


Posted: March 2012


Interview on Talk Radio 702 – 28 March, 2011

Posted: March 2012


Comment from the Cycad Society of South Africa regarding the proposed ban in the trading of certain Encephalartos species

The Cycad Society of South Africa is very pleased indeed to be afforded the opportunity of providing input on this matter. Our information fully corroborates that of SANBI and the ICUN with regard to the threatened extinction in habitat of many of our cycad species. The decimation of the wild Cycad populations is no less than a national tragedy. You and your department are to be congratulated on the novel approach you have adopted in bringing the public into the legislating process in the concept stage and, in keeping with our recent history of constructive dialogue with your department, we hope that the information that we provide will be useful to you in making the necessary decisions as to what legislation needs to be enacted to effectively protect the remaining wild cycad populations…

Posted: March 2011


Statement presented by the South African Cycad Society at the Workshop for the Amendment of the ToPS Regulations

The Cycad regulations were included in the ToPS Regulations as a poorly conceived afterthought. One was left with no illusions about the viability of these regulations when they were rejected by the provincial nature conservation authorities.

The Cycad Society has spent three years in talks with the Department explaining the complexities of the Cycad situation in this country. It was agreed in 2009 that a process would be initiated whereby meaningful Cycad regulations would be jointly compiled and the ToPS Regulations amended accordingly by June 2010. The urgency of the matter was appreciated by all concerned.

It has now become quite clear that Cycads enjoy a relatively low priority in the overall picture of conservation matters in the Department. It has also become apparent that the well being of the wild South African Cycads is the concern of a very small portion of the general population and that these concerns are represented by only two organizations; SANBI and the South African Cycad Society.

At this point in time there is only one current and valid regulation in ToPS that is relevant to the protection of wild Cycads (This being Regulation 25a) and this regulation has been largely ignored by the public of late and, historically, poorly enforced by the authorities. The other remaining regulations are administrative in nature and these administrative measures, namely the permit system, are an absolute failure as a conservation measure.

We are alarmed to learn that once again it has been proposed to impose restrictions on the legal Cycad trade as a measure for protecting the remaining wild Cycad populations. This notion is very obviously a paradoxical absurdity!

The shortcoming of ToPS, with regard to Cycad protection, has now reached emergency status. If meaningful and enforceable regulations cannot be enacted in the very near future it will no longer be necessary to do so; there will be no wild Cycads left to protect!

New and innovative perspectives need to be considered with regard to Cycad protection. We consider it the responsibility of the Department and the convenors of this meeting to formally instruct the Cycad Society and SANBI to jointly produce recommendations for inclusion in the amended ToPS regulations.

The proposal for restrictions in Cycad trade must be seen to be part of the amendment process as it has been described today by the Department. Under the circumstances we, the Cycad Society of South Africa formally list ourselves as a stakeholder in this matter but reserve the right to provide our detailed recommendations at the time of our input during the defined phase 3 of the amendment process END .


Posted: February 2011


National Environmental Management Act: Biodiversity Act(10/2004)Proposed prohibited activities involving specimens of certain Encephalartos species: Submission of representations or objections)

The government is playing strictly by the rules on this one. They have been advised by their scientific consultants, (SANBI), that a partial ban in Cycad trade will stop the removal of wild Cycads. The Government has published the proposal in the Gazette for public comment, thus giving us (the Cycad Society) the opportunity of reiterating our grave misgivings as to all the obvious deficiencies in this simplistic approach to a very complex problem. We have been dealing with the people from the Dept of Environmental Affairs for more than 3 years now and you can be sure that we will be given a fair hearing before any legislation is enacted, provided that we work through the system by submitting our comments as required.

Folks, before starting wild rumors and half baked speculation please feel free to contact me to get an accurate report on developments. I am sure that De Wet will answer any of your questions from SANBI’s perspective if you will be polite enough to ask him. This is the start to a process that we sincerely hope will result in legislation that will effectively protect the wild cycads while at the same time producing a framework from which you can honestly and legally conduct your Cycad activities.

Best regards
Mark Crooks


Posted: February 2011


Albany Cycad (Encephalartos Latifrons) Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP)

The Minister of Environmental Affairs publish the Albany Cycad (Encephalartos Latifrons) Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for public comments in terms of section 100 on the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) in the gazette (33456_798) on Friday the 13th of August.

The department would like to request interested and affected stakeholders to submit written comments to the Director General: Environmental Affairs.

By fax: 012 320 2844 or by email to:
Ms Wilma Lutsch: or Ms Humbulani Mafumo:


By post to: The Director General: Environmental Affairs
Attention: Ms Humbulani Mafumo
Private Bag x447

The due date to submit comments is Friday, 17 September 2010.

Posted: August 2010