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Family name: Zamiaceae

Scientific name: Encephalartos species

Species: Encephalartos aemulans, Encephalartos lebomboensis, Encephalartos msinganus, Encephalartos senticosus, Encephalartos villosus

Zulu names: isigqiki semfene, isigqikisomkhovu, umguza, umhlungulo

Short description: Encephalartos species are a group of species that belong to the encephalartos genus. They are known as cycads. In South Africa, all cycads are protected by national and provincial laws and a permit is require for owning them.


The Zulu name “isigqikisomkhovu” means “the chair for umkhovu (a person possessed by an evil spirit and employed for witchcraft)“.

The plant gets the name isigqikisomkhovu because the it is used as a “timeout chair” for umkhovu, in order to stop it from entering the home.

Related uses: The tree is cultivated as a protective charm to ward off evil spirits (such as umkhovu) and animals (such as imfene) that have been fed imithi emibi and used for witchcraft.

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