The Cycad Centre in Umlaas which lies a short distance off the N3, along the Umlaas Road in KwaZulu Natal, is managed and owned by Danie Nel. The centre is located at the end of a short dirt road, easily recognisable by its pinks walls. Nel is extremely knowledgeable on the topic of cycads, and is also the chairman of the KwaZulu Natal Cycad Society. He shares with visitors a wealth of information on the plants as he guides them through the grounds, which house about 800 various cycads.
Cycad lovers will share massive delight in the impressive variety of cycads which are grown and sold at the centre, ranging in price from R10 to R10,000. Encephalartos woodii which is a famous for being extinct in nature, and is possibly the most sought after species of cycad in the world. The Umlaas Cycad Centre also features the exceptionally rare Natalenis or ram's horn, which grows about 6m or more high, branched from the base or with a single trunk, producing leaves of up to 3m long, with a twist towards the tips. Other species found there include Inopinus, Eugenemaraisii, Middelburgensis and Laevolius .
Keen gardeners will also share an interest in Nel's propagation system, which he uses to cultivate specimens from seed, into mature plants. Other than housing international varieties of cycads from as far abroad as Madagascar, Japan and America, the centre keeps and sells a large variety of other interesting plants too, for example the golden barrel cactus, also known as giant mother-in-law's cushion, which is a round and very thorny cactus; as well as Tibetan lilies, Mandela's gold and the medicinal aloe ferox.
Visitors are able to purchase cycads at reasonable prices from the Umlaas Cycad Centre, which also exports internationally, and provides permits for the plants as well.
The Cycad Centre is open from 8am to 5pm every day of the week. For further information contact Danie Nel on (033) 251 0478.
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