In the media

Below you will find links to various articles or references found in the media/press on cycads. If you do come across an interesting article and we can get authorisation from the author to publish and link to the article do not hesitate to send the details to the Webmaster.

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News 2016

1 June Cycads tracked through DNA barcodes – Janice Williamson, Herman van der Bank, Ronny Kabongo and Michelle van der Bank – Veld & Flora, Vol 102 (2) – The cycad fossil record dates back to the early Permian (280 million years ago) and possibly the Carboniferous (320 million years ago) making them the world’s oldest extant seed plants.
Cycads flourished during the Mesozoic – the age of the dinosaurs – but, unlike the dinosaurs, have survived three mass extinction events in Earth’s history. The devastating loss of cycads, a tragedy largely unnoticed, is very similar to that of the rhino poaching crisis. Cycads are classified as the world’s most threatened plant group. Cycad artist Douglas Goode stated in 1989: “cycads could be referred to as the rhino horn of the plant kingdom”.

PDF download of scanned article – 201606 Veld and Flora 102_2

Permission to republish this article with kind permission from The Botanical Society of South Africa, Veld & Flora

1 March Protecting highly threatened South African cycads from extinction: A new approach – Tess Rayner & Adam Pires – Veld & Flora, Vol 102 (1) – The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that cycads (order Cycadales) are the most threatened plant group in the world. The order Cycadales includes over 340 named species in three families: Zamiaceae and Stangeriaceae (represented in South Africa by the genera Encephatartos and Stangeria respectively) and the Cycadaceae. Around 60% of the known and named species of the order Cycadales are presently threatened with extinction in the wild. Over 90% of the South African representatives of this plant order are considered to be Species of Conservation Concern!PDF download of scanned article – 201603 Veld and Flora 102_1

Permission to republish this article with kind permission from The Botanical Society of South Africa, Veld & FloraTRAFFIC and the EWT

News 2015

8 Oct Cycads under attack – The Gardener – Jolanda Roux – South Africa’s cycad population is facing a dire threat from an introduced pest. The Asian cycad scale (Aulacaspis yasumatsui), commonly known as CAS (Cycad Aulacaspis Scale), was con rmed in South Africa in 2014 and has been called the “single most important threat to natural cycad populations” by the International Union for Conservation, IUCN/SSC Cycad Specialist Group (CSG) – Subgroup on Invasive Pests. According to this group, at least two species of cycads face extinction in the wild as a result of CAS, so they have given it top priority….The full article as it appeared in “The Gardener”, Oct, 2015 has been made available through the kind permission of “The Gardener”

The original scientific article’s reference is

Nesamari R, Millar IM, Coutinho TA, Roux J. (2015) South African cycads at risk: Aulacaspis yasumatsui (Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Diaspididae) in South Africa. African Entomology 23(1):198-206.

Abstract: The scale insect Aulacaspis yasumatsui is native to Southeast Asia and a major pest of cycad (Cycadales) plants. Due to an increase in worldwide trading of cycads, A. yasumatsui has spread globally and has become a major threat to many cultivated and native cycads worldwide. In this study we report formally, for the first time, A. yasumatsui infesting cycads in South Africa. This scale insect was observed infesting cycads in three provinces in South Africa, namely, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. Its identification was based on morphology and nucleotide sequences of three gene regions. Although more common and damaging on non-native Cycas species, its presence on some native South African Encephalartos species is of concern and effort should be made to control the spread and impact of this pest in the country.
Key words: cycad aulacaspis scale, CAS, Cycas, Encephalartos.

24 April Cycads Bust – 50|50 Community – With the environmental spotlight so focused on the poaching of large mammals such as rhino, elephant and lion, it often happens that the less charismatic species that make up the world’s sensitive biodiversity is left open to attack. These ancient trees, many of which have been standing sentinel on our country side’s hills for over 1000 years, are being pulled out the ground, and illegally traded for huge amounts in the landscaping industry. We accompanied the dedicated team at the Green Scorpion Unit on an illegal bust…
30 March Are you involved in the illegal cycad trade? – Veld & Flora – Kirsten Retief, Adam West and Michele Pfab – Cycads (all Encephalartos species and Stangeria eriopus) are the most threatened plant group in South Africa. They are also one of the most threatened groups of plants in the world. In South Africa almost 70% of our cycad species are threatened with extinction, with four species on the brink of extinction and seven species with fewer than 100 plants left in the wild. The primary threat to South African cycads is illegal harvesting for landscaping purposes and private collections, mostly to satisfy a domestic market. This avid collecting has devastated many wild cycad populations. – published with the kind permission of the Botanical Society of South Africa
30 March National treasure at risk – IOL – Helen Bamford – Cycads, which appeared well before dinosaurs roamed the planet, are so rare and threatened that they are being artificially pollinated and grown in laboratories.
3 March Hi-tech protection for ancient plants – IOL – Melanie Gosling – Kirstenbosch staff have stepped up their programme to protect their valuable cycad population and have installed sensors coupled to alarms around the cycad area, and are microdotting all the plants..
16 February Vier vas ná broodboom-stropery – Netwerk24 – Mariska Spoormaker – Die polisie van Jansenville het verlede week twee vraghouers vol gestroopte broodbome – sommiges maklik 500 en ander meer as 1 000 jaar oud – onderweg na Gauteng in die Oos-Kaapse Karoo van die pad getrek.Die vervoerpermit was vervals. Vier mense is Donderdag in hegtenis geneem. Nog inhegtenisnemings kan volg, het Div de Villiers van die Oos-Kaapse Groen Skerpioene bevestig.
20 February SANParks Honorary Rangers act to help save irreplaceable cycads – SANParksCriminals in the Addo area of the Eastern Cape poached more than fifty irreplaceable cycads over Valentine’s weekend. Two truckloads of cycad, many reaching between 3 and 4.5 meters high, were confiscated by authorities. These plants are slow growing and are between 500 and 1000 years old. An aerial census of the area identified more dug up cycads in the veld.

News 2014

28 August Welcome to the age of Cycad trafficking – Marianne Thamm – Daily Maverick – The urge to collect extinct or near-extinct cycads is a particularly baffling one. What is it that drives the need to own something so ancient and rare that it has fuelled an epidemic of criminality, spurring harvesters to become more and more brazen? Twice this month thieves hit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town making off with 22 critically endangered species potentially worth millions.
7 August Cycad thieves strike again – John Yeld – IOLCape Town – Ten more cycads, most of them members of a critically endangered plant species and with a combined conservative value of at least half-a-million rand, were stolen from Kirstenbosch Gardens this week.
5 August Endangered cycads stolen from Kirstenbosch – John Yeld – IOLCape Town – Brazen thieves struck at the heart of Kirstenbosch on Monday night, making off with 13 of the world-famous garden’s critically endangered cycads with a conservative commercial value of at least R200 000.
27 June Cone revealed faux fern as cycad –  Stephen Bishop – Otago Daily Times – Stangeria eriopus is a cycad that’s a little different from most other cycads. When first collected from the wild grasslands of South Africa in the early 19th century, it was thought to be a species of fern because of similarities in the leaves and was grouped in the Lomaria genus of ferns.
11 April Heirs to Beach Park ‘art collection’ of rare cycads are moved to save it – Elisabeth Parker – Tampa Bay TimesA jungle of species once rooted in the most remote and forbidden corners of the world grew lush and dense amid the mansions of Beach Park. The garden flourished so well that people passing by on elite Swann Circle couldn’t see the house in the center, where an orthopedic surgeon and his wife raised three boys and tended their botanical treasures.
24 February Plant poachers threaten Isimangaliso – Sihle Mavuso – The New Age- While battling rhino poaching, the globally recognized Isimangaliso Wetland Park is facing a new threat – from fauna thieves. The park’s CEO, Andrew Zaloumis, said the thieves were uprooting special plants which are just as vulnerable to poaching as the rhino.
17 February St. Petersburg likely to buy Tampa family’s rare plant collection – Kameel Stanley – Tampa Bay Times – It was large, lush and filled with plants not usually seen in South Tampa back yards, thanks to his father, who collected rare palms and cycads. The environment inspired Young, 59, to become a botanist. After his father died eight years ago, he continued to nurture the garden. About a year ago, he and his brothers decided it was time to sell the estate. But what of the plants?