The frond or leaf of Encephalartos aemulans reaches a length of 1,5 m, rarely 2 m; its pinnae or leaflets become up to 15 cm long. The median leaflets, only slightly overlapping, are narrowly elliptic in shape. They are glossy green with a spiny tip and up to three teeth on the upper leaflet margins, up to two on the lower one.
The basal leaflets do not overlap; they are reduced to prickles above the leafless petioles that become up to 11 m long.
An imaginary line, uneven to haphazard, can be envisaged joining the successive leaflet tips. This presents a typical feature of the species: the notably unkempt arrangement of leaflet tips upon the frond, while they are, in contrast, so regularly positioned at the base where they join the rachis (Hugo, 2014; Coates Palgrave, 2002; www.cycadsociety.org).