Encephalartos humilis is a dwarf cycad growing a short stem, typically surrounded by new growth from suckers. A mature stem is about 30 cm tall, 20 cm wide. Both male (pollen) and female (seed) cones of E. humilis are brown.
Cycad roots generally contain bacteria able to obtain nitrogen from the air for use by the plant.
The species distribution is in Mpumalanga in the Nelspruit, Waterval Boven, Carolina and Lydenburg areas. The habitat is subalpine grassland, on sandy soil of northeast or east facing slopes over sandstone or among rocks. This region is characterised by high rainfall and dense mist.
The species is considered vulnerable early in the twenty first century, its habitat severely affected by forestry. Coning is inhibited by the absence or reduction of natural fires in this forestry region, but stimulated by the rain and mist.
Humilis means humble or lowly in Latin, referring to the size of the plants (Hugo, 2014; www.arkive.org; http://www.iucnredlist.org).