Encephalartos lanatus is a medium sized, usually single stemmed cycad that makes a striking impression (SA Tree List No. 5.2). It grows slowly to a height of about 1,5 m and the stem reaches a diameter of about 30 cm.
The leaves are blue-grey and woolly when young, grey-green and up to 80 cm long when mature. They tend to curve downwards close to the tips. The cones are woolly when young, creamy yellow when mature.
The male cone is cylindrical and much narrower than the female one that is especially stout around the middle, tapering towards its ends. The seeds are yellow, fleshy and comparatively small, given the size of some other cycad seeds (Coates Palgrave, 2002; www.plantzafrica.com).