The Encephalartos arenarius stem-tip has its spaced leaves on the upper, rounded part. Lower down, the patterned stem markings where earlier leaves have dropped off are aligned in elegantly curving rows.
The leaf has a smooth petiole part below the smallest leaflets that appear laterally, opposite each other. Leaflets have lobed lower margins from the first one, although not managing three lobes from the start.
The green petiole broadens on the outside where it attaches to the stem, only slightly in this species, unlike for instance, the flattened bases of E. altensteinii petioles (Hugo, 2014; Coates Palgrave, 2002; Leistner, (Ed.), 2000).