Book reviews

Over the last number of years very good books were published on Cycads. Although every effort is made to keep the information on this page current, changes may occur without being updated here. As soon as the webmaster is notified of a change it will be updated.




Using cones to identify the indigenous cycads of South Africa

2016, Hugo, C.

For more on this title see:



The Cycads – Volume 1 (Asia and Australia) and Volume 2 (Africa and the Americas)

2015, Whitelock, Loran M. and Benadom, Duke C.

The follow-up on Loran Whitelock’s authoritative work “The Cycads”, will be available in two volumes. See:

The Cycads will be available in August, 2015 from:


2014 - CITES and Cycads

CITES and Cycads: A user’s guide

2014, Rutherford, C., et al

Catherine Rutherford et al. 114pp. 297 x 210mm. Over 100 colour illustrations. Paperback, with CD-ROM Kew Publishing, 2014

“This User’s Guide covers the widely traded cycad plants and how they are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The text is written for the non-expert and the guide explores the major groups of cycads in trade, their distribution, conservation status, use and levels of trade as well as the likelihood of illegal trade.” See:

2012 - Hugo

Identification of indigenous cycads of South Africa

2012, Hugo, C.

Available from the CSSA – contact Ian Bassingthwaighte at:

The purpose of this publication is to serve as a practical, easy-to-use guide for the identification of indigenous cycad species (Encephalartos species). The guide was developed with the layman in mind for practical use in the field or garden. It is not intended as a scientific taxonomic publication on the indigenous cycad species. E.brevifoliatus is not covered in the book. Although the distribution of E.umbeliziensis is in Swaziland, it is mentioned in the key because it does occur in gardens and may be confused with E.villosus. As a Nature Conservation official with 23 years of experience dealing with cycad permit inspections and investigations, I realized that without a practical, easy-to-use identification guide, plants are incorrectly identified even by experienced officials. The need was then identified for the development of a practical identification key for Nature Conservation Officials. This key can also be used by the general public to identify cycad species in their gardens.

2014 - Pedro Capella

2014 – Details to follow

2010 - Capela 2

2010, 2nd edition

2006 - Capela 1

2006, 1st edition

Speculations on the Encephalartos species of Mozambique

2010, Capela, P. (2nd edition)

Size: Pages: 131 Pictures: colour, sketches and maps Publisher: Pedro Capela, 2006 – updated in 2010 (2nd Edition) Price: For an overview of this book see “This is the newly revised Second Edition of the Speculations on the Encephalartos Species of Mozambique. This book features 125 pages, including new color photographs, most of these in habitat. Thousands of hours went into the revisions of this book. The work contains some breakthrough insights into the following species:

  • Encephalartos turneri
  • Encephalartos munchii
  • Encephalartos pterogonus
  • Encephalartos manikensis-that complicated complex
  • Encephalartos chimanimaniensis
  • And more…

 2002 - Jones - Cyads of the World

2nd edition, 2010

1994 - Jones - Cycads of the World

1994 - Jones - 2

1st edition, 1993

ISBN 13: 9781560982203

ISBN 10: 1560982209

Cycads of the World: Ancient Plants in Today’s Landscape

2010, Jones, D.L. (2nd edition)

2007 - Osborne et al - Cycads of Vietnam

Cycads of Vietnam

2007, Osborne, R., Hill, K. and Nguyen, Phan Ke

Size: 290mm x 220mm Pages: 124 Pictures: more than 200 colour photographs and line drawings Publisher: Roy Osborne and Wynand van Eeden, 2007 Available from the Publishers: In Southern Africa contact Wynand van Eeden E-mail: Tel: +27 76 756 9299+27 76 756 9299 Rest of the World contact Roy Osborne at

Only fairly recently has Vietnam become recognised as a country of enormous biological diversity. This is true not only in its fauna but also in its flora. New discoveries have revealed an abundance of cycads—fascinating plants now known to occupy a key position in plant evolution. Vietnam’s cycads, many of which have been named only in the last 10–15 years, occupy a variety of specialised habitats. Some are obligate beach-dwellers, some live only in the northern mountains, some occur on small offshore islands, while some grow in tiny crevices on near-vertical limestone cliffs. Many are found in areas of spectacular natural beauty. Vietnam’s cycads are as diverse in their morphology as they are in their habitats. Some have a treelike form reaching 12 m in height while others are bonsai-like dwarfs. Some have strange swollen ‘elephant’s foot’ trunks. Some have pinnate leaves reaching 4.5 m in length while others have multiple leaf bifurcations. In ‘Cycads of Vietnam’, each of the 27 species is described in detail with line drawings, maps and numerous photographs illustrating points of interest. This book is commended to cycad hobbyists, nurserymen, researchers, students, conservation officials and those with a general interest in plant evolution and matters botanical. The book is richly illustrated with tables, drawings and around 200 photographs, showing habitats, male and female cones of the species and morphological details of the plants. The text cover various aspects of cycads, from History, Geography, Climate, Flora and fauna, Ecology and vegetation types, Distribution and relationships, Classification of Cycas, Vegetative morphology, Reproductive features, Pollination and seed dispersal, Hybridism, Toxicity, Ethnobotany, Conservation and Cultivation. A Key to Cycas species in Vietnam is given before the species are treated individually. Each description has a distribution map and the species is very well illustrated, using photographs. An example of the species description is shown on the next two pages. Each of the descriptions are illustrated by a page of photographs while some has a line drawing from the original publication.

2004 - De Klerk

Encephalartos nubimontanus – a distinction between 11 variants

2004, De Klerk, D.

Pages: 59 Pictures: colour, sketches and maps Publisher: Diekie de Klerk, 2004 Price: Contact Diekie de Klerk for details at or on (015) 297 3120 / (083) 292 4310 ISBN: 0620335823

2004 - Goode and Cooper

The Cycads & Cycads Moths of KwaZulu-Natal

2004, Cooper, M.R. and Goode, D.

Pages: xxii + 98 Pictures: Colour plates from watercolour paintings, maps. Publisher: Peroniceras Press, 7 Ridge Road, 3610 New Germany ISBN: 062031978X

2002 - Osborne

An Introduction to Gymnosperms, Cycas and Cycadales

2002, Pant, D.D. and Osborne, R.


2002 - Whitelock - The Cycads

The Cycads

2002, Whitelock, L.

Size: 285mm x 225mm x 32mm Pages: 374 + 156 with photos Pictures: 505 colour photographs Publisher: Timber Press, Inc., 2002 Address: 133 S.W. Second Avenue, Suite 450, Portland, Oregon 97204. U.S.A. e-mail: web:

Whitelock is the doyen of cycad collectors, having been collecting cycads and information on them since before most of us knew what a cycad was.  His travels took him to the far corners of the earth to hunt cycads.  Far more than anyone else, he can write with authority about cycads in natural habitat.Comprehensive the book certainly is.  The first 40 pages contain short but adequate chapters on past and present distribution, classification and names, morphology and reproduction, cultivation, propagation, conservation, and cycads in human activities.  These lack literature references but contain the basic information in an admirably concise form.  Many readers will be pleased with the section, Cycads for specific purposes (pages 345-354), containing lists of species under headings such as cycads with subterranean stems, cycads with very long leaves, cycads that are deciduous, temperate to warm temperate cycads, cycads with rapid growth rates, and cycads that tolerate cold and frost, salt, or wind.  There is also a bibliography to mostly taxonomic publications, mainly those in which new genera and species were originally described.The main part of the book comprises the treatment of genera and species.  These are all in alphabetical order, a minor irritant because similar species are not grouped together for comparison, but perhaps inevitable given our still poor understanding of the relationships between different genera and between different species.  For every genus and species there is an indirect reference to the place of original publication, one of the most comprehensive descriptions I have ever seen – these really enable one to visualise the plants, something about habitat and geographical distribution, miscellaneous notes on history and similar species, behaviour in cultivation, and conservation status.  For almost every species there are several photographs, usually taken in habitat, and mostly of excellent quality.There are a few things which I don’t like.  There are no distribution maps, and many of the geographical names mentioned in the text would be unfamiliar to the average reader.  Then the photographs are not opposite the relevant text, but grouped together in two groups.  I suppose that to place them with the text would have meant printing the whole book in colour and added materially to the price, but still I feel that it would have been worth the higher selling price, and that the layout lacks imagination.  I am also disappointed that there are not photographs of leaf detail as well as male and female cones for all species – I suspect that the publisher is to blame because I cannot imagine that the author would not have had such photographs.  The net result is a wonderful source of information if one starts off with a name, but it won’t be easy to identify an unknown cycad from this book.  This book is the result of painstaking work over a lifetime; in the field, the garden, and the library, and it shows.

Shortened from Encephalartos book review by: Dr. Piet Vorster

2002 - Donaldson and Winter

2nd edition – 2002

Grow Cycads

2002, Donaldson, J. and Winter, J. (2nd edition)

Kirstenbosch Gardening Series. Size: Pages: 36 Publisher: National Botanical Institute, Kirstenbosch, Private Bag X7, Claremont 7735, South Africa Published: 2002 (2nd Edition)
The booklet is written by Dr John Donaldson and John Winter, and published by the S A National Botanical Institute (SANBI) under their Kirstenbosch Gardening series. Dr Donaldson’s name will be recognized either as the author of articles appearing in Encephalartos or, as a source of reference used by other authors. It is A5 in size, consists of 36 pages, has numerous colour photographs and covers various matters under the following headings: Propagation from seed; Vegetative propagation; Cultivation, Container plants; Pests and diseases; Landscaping with cycads and, Cycads and the law. What is of interest is the table listing the distribution, availability, features and growing conditions for South African cycads, setting out their water and sun preferences, whether they are frost hardy, their overall leaf colour and availability/scarcity. The booklet is written in easy–to–understand language and is ideal for the novice/beginner.
Review submitted by Ian Bassingthwaighte

2012 - Stevenson - Proceedings of Cycad 2008

Proceedings of Cycad 2008


2002 - Nat Grobbelaar - Afr 2002 - Nat Grobbelaar - Eng

Cycads – with special reference to the southern African species

2002, Grobbelaar, N.

Book review:

2001 - Douglas Goode 1989 - Douglas Goode

Cycads of Africa – Volume 1

2001, Goode, D.


Adolf Fanfoni

Cycad World of Innovation

Fanfoni, A.

Ken Hill

Cycads of Australia

Hill, K. and Osborne, R.

2008 - Vovides - Proceedings of Cycad 2005

Proceedings of Cycad 2005


2007 - Squire - Palms and Cycads

Palms & Cycads: A complete guide to selecting, growing and propagating

Squire, D.

2003 - Walters and Osborne - Cycad Classification

Cycad Classification – concepts and recommendations

Walters, T. and Osborne, R. (ed)

2002 - Donaldson - Cycads - Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan


Donaldson, J. (ed)

2000 - Cronin - Australian Palms

Australian Palms, ferns, cycads and pandans

Cronin, L.


1999 - Heibloem - The Cycads of Central Africa

Cycads of Central Africa

Heibloem, P.


1999 - Boyer - Palms and Cycads beyond teh tropics

Palms and Cycads


1998 - Norstog and Nicholls - The Biology of the Cycads

The biology of the Cycads

Norstog, K.J. and Nicholls, T.J.


1998 - Hodel - The Palms and Cycads of Thailand

The Palms and Cycads of Thailand

Hodel, D.R. (ed)

1998 - Daniels - Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood: The World of Fossilized Wood, Cones, Ferns, and Cycads



1993 - Roy Osborne

The Cycad Collection


1992 - von Breitenbach - Tree Atlas

Tree Atlas of Southern Africa


1990 - Len Butt

An Introduction to the Genus Cycas in Australia

Butt, L.P.

1995 - William Tang

Cycad cultivation and landscaping

1995 ,Tang, W.

1984 - CynthiaGiddy 1974 - Cynthia Giddy

Cycads of South Africa

1986, Giddy, C.

Published by C. Struik Publishers, Cape Town South Africa, 1986
ISBN 10: 0869771957 / ISBN 13: 9780869771952

1995 - Wrinkle - Cycads Their cultivation and propagation

Cycads: Their cultivation and propagation

Wrinkle, G.

1994 - Stewart - A Guide to Palms and Cycads of the World

Palms & Cycads of the World


1992 - Vovides - The cycads of Veracruz

The Cycads of Veracruz, Mexico

1990 - Stevenson - Proceedings of Cycad 87

The biology, structure and systematics of the cycadales

Stevenson, D.W. (ed)

1990 - Krempin - Palms and Cycads Around the World

Palms & Cycads around the world

Krempin, J.

1984 - Gilbert - Cycads trade exploitation and protection

Cycads: Status, trade, exploitation and protection 1977-1982

1975 - Batkhuizen - The cycad garden of UNISA

The cycad garden of UNISA

1965 - Dyer - The cycads of South Africa

The cycads of Southern Africa

1965, Dyer, R.A.

1924 - Dahlgren

A fossil flower

1924, Dahlgren, B.E.


A Taxonomic Monograph of the Cycads

ND, Chamberlain, C.J.

This is a digital copy of an unpublished monograph …


1919 - Chamberlain
1st edition, 1919

2nd reprint, 1965

The Living Cycads

1919, Chamberlain, C.J.

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project to make the …


1906 - Wieland

American fossil cycads

1906, Wieland, G.R.

1842 - Miquel

Monographia cycadearum

1846, Miquel, F.A.W.