The leaf of the Tongaland cycad shown here gives a good idea of the typical leaflet characteristics of this plant. The leaflets, the pinnae, are short and broad. In fact, Encephalartos ferox has the broadest of all leaflets in the cycad world. The surface of the leaflet may be flat or twisted. It is dull green and hard, resembling holly leaves. Both margins are lobed, unlike some cycads with teeth and/or lobes on one side only. The Tongaland cycad lobes end in small teeth that are spine-tipped.
The ferocious look of these spines has given cause to the specific name of ferox that means just that, ferocious or warlike in Latin. The rachis or leaf midrib may display a kink somewhere along its length, deviating from being straight (Wikipedia; www.plantzafrica.com; www.pacsoa.org.au; www.cycadsociety.org).