The straight leaves are 1 to 2m long, dark green in colour while female cones are a dark olive green, the seeds a bright orange to red.
Described in 1868 the only cycad known to occur in West Africa but has a wide distribution ranging from Ghana through Benin to Nigeria growing in sparse to dense forests and granite outcrops. Although adapted to a life in rocky or grassy habitats that are swept by annual fires it has a tendency to have its stem pulled below the soil by it's strong contractile root system making the stem virtually fireproof with it's woolly covered crown surface. This small cycad with a subterranean trunk is found in a tropical climate with warm to hot and wet summers and mild dry winters and may grow in full sun or partial shade and is very sensitive to cold weather and frost. There is a subspecies E. barteri ssp. allochrous which was discovered in 1978 at the foothills of the isolated Jos Plateau in north - central Nigeria and may be differentiated in that newly sprouted leaves of the former are light green, while those of the latter are brown. Vulnerable decreasing.
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