All cycads in cultivation today descend from their ancient ancestors, which grew in the wild. The native habitat for cycads is “the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions of both the north and south hemispheres.” (“Cycads of the World” by David L. Jones.) Today the numbers of cycads still thriving in the wild are dwindling; urban encroachment, clearing for agriculture, and poaching being the biggest culprits. Encephalartos woodii is one species which is extinct in the wild. There was only one plant ever found. The last of the stems from the original woodii were transferred from the wild to botanic gardens in 1916. (For a complete list of endangered species of plants and animals see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species at http://www.iucnredlist.org/ and search cycads.)
Cycads reproduce primarily in two ways. One way is by seed. This process requires a male plant that generates the cone with the pollen, and a female plant with a cone which holds the seeds. Natural pollination is accomplished by native insects (beetles) that carry the pollen from male cone to female cone. In cultivation pollination is often done by man. The second means of propagation is vegetative, or by offset, or pup. Since there was only one woodii ever found in the wild (male), propagation by seed is not feasible, and all true woodiis today are descendants by offset of that original plant from the wild. They are genetic clones of the original plant.
Since most woodiis belong to botanic gardens or private collections, and since cycads are relatively slow-growing, true woodiis rarely become available for sale on the open market. It is not unheard of for collectors to submit their names to a grower to be included on a waiting list to purchase a woodii pup. And still potential buyers may end up waiting many years for the opportunity to own a woodii.
For these reasons offsets of Encephalartos woodii command a hefty price. Viewing an Encephalartos woodii is a rare opportunity, and the opportunity to purchase one of the rarest cycads in the world is even more uncommon.
Grow and prosper,