Plant (only male known) branching from the base (sometimes branched above in cultivation); stem up to 6 m tall, 50-90 cm diam. at base, narrowing to about 50-60 cm above, with densely leafy crown and woolly bracts. Leaves 1.8-2.5 m long including petiole 10-20 cm long; rhachis gracefully spreading-recurved or arched, densely pale brown woolly at first becoming glabrous with age except for large pulvinus about 10 cm broad; leaflets leathery, dark green, gradually reduced to prickles at the base, those from juvenile suckers variably 2-5-toothed in the lower half on one or both margins, those on old stems often with entire margins; median leaflets more or less ovate-lanceolate, up to about 20 cm long and 5 cm broad, the apex often slightly hooked and blunt. Male cone 1-several, bright orange-yellow, on short stout peduncles, subcylindric, 40-90 cm long, rarely up to 120 cm, 15-20 cm diam., median scales up to about 7 cm long and 3-3.5 cm broad; bulla with the beak projecting 2.5-3.5 cm beyond sporangial surface, with acute lateral ridges, the upper facet with a central ridge or hump, the lower facet rounded or slightly ridged, the terminal facet slightly concave, about 1 cm broad and about the same vertically, often with raised margin.
Several plants are in cultivation locally and overseas.
Recorded from one locality only near Ngoye in Zululand and possibly now extinct in the wild; recorded in the wild by Chamberlain in 1912 and lastly by a Forest Officer in 1916.