The cones of the Modjadji palm or Modjadji cycad are either male or female on a specific plant, i.e. like all cycads it is dioecious. The plant shown here presents a good display of five male cones. The picture, like several of the others in this Album, was taken during April in Johannesburg of a plant in a private collection grown over many years.
Male cones of Encephalartos transvenosus grow to a length of about 40 cm. They are characteristically thinner, more cylindrical and longer than the female ones that appear barrel-like, short and stout around the middle sections. Once a plant produces cones it is possible to determine its gender. The arrangement of cones on short stalks atop the stem inside the leafy crown as in picture, is typical. There may be any number from one to five cones growing together in one season.
The scales making up a cone are densely stacked in spiralling rows. Every scale is tipped with a thick down-curved point. Pollen is produced on male cone scales and released from sacs on the under-surface of the scale (Coates Palgrave, 2002).