The habitat of Encephalartos arenarius, the Alexandria cycad or in Afrikaans the duinebroodboom (dune bread tree), is coastal dune scrub in a limited area of the Eastern Cape. The summers are dry in this area and there is no frost in winter.
The natural habitat of E. arenarius is largely lost today, causing this species to be threatened and much in need of a conservation effort. E. altensteinii is distributed over a bigger area of the Eastern Cape and northwards into KwaZulu-Natal.
The species is similar to and thus sometimes confused with E. ferox (a greener leaved species) and E. latifrons; the latter growing in the same area, but the former not.
E. arenarius is grown widely, propagated from seed and sometimes using hand pollination. It is susceptible to frost damage as those who transplant it into different habitats may discover. The Alexandria cycad grows best in semi-shade (www.florcomgardens.co.za; www.plantzafrica.com).