Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew rehouses its oldest pot plant

One of the world's oldest pot plants -- and the oldest at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew -- has been repotted in the 250th year of the gardens' existence.

The Jurassic cycad, Encephalartos altensteninii (i), was collected by Kew's first plant hunter Francis Masson in South Africa.

The plant, known as the Eastern Cape giant cycad, arrived at Kew in 1775 and has thrived in the Palm House since it was built in 1848.

Growing at an average rate only 2.5cm a year, the knobbly trunk now reaches nearly 4.5m in length and is supported by metal stilts.

A Kew representative said: "This is the first time our gardeners have repotted this Kew icon, rehousing it in a bespoke mahogany hardwood box hand-crafted on site."

The job took three months to plan and involved a 4m-high gantry to lift the one-tonne specimen. Five gardeners had to support its trunk with stilts.

Palm House keeper Wes Shaw said: "Cycads are fascinating prehistoric plants, and this one is one of the most unique plants at Kew gardens.

"This year is Kew's 250th anniversary and it is quite fitting that we re-housed one of its oldest residents in our anniversary year. The plant is the don of the Palm House."


Subscribe to Horticulture Week for more news, more in-depth features and more technical and market info.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Trees and Shrubs - Planting benefits

Trees and Shrubs - Planting benefits

The message that health, the environment and business all benefit from trees is finally getting through, but are nurseries seeing an upturn? Sally Drury reports.



These evergreen trees and shrubs have decorative bark and can flower and fruit simultaneously, says Miranda Kimberley.

Four Oaks Trade Show 2018 - Product Solutions

Four Oaks Trade Show 2018 - Product Solutions

The latest products have all been designed to make growing more productive and to help sell more plants, says Sally Drury.

Opinion... Democracy is a hindrance to good place making

Opinion... Democracy is a hindrance to good place making

A farmer close by the small village of Green Hammerton in North Yorkshire is promoting his farm as a site for 3,000 new homes. It is slap-bang in the middle of the countryside at the mid-point between York and Harrogate.

Opinion... How to increase UK plant supply

Opinion... How to increase UK plant supply

Why don't UK growers produce more of the plants that the UK market demands?

Opinion... Co-operation is industry's best card

Opinion... Co-operation is industry's best card

What a great trade this is when one of us needs help. "The Container Revolution" co-operative exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a good example.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive RANKING of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles