Stangeria eriopus, commonly Natal grass cycad or in Afrikaans bobbejaankos (baboon food), is a cone-bearing, fern-like plant of the Stangeriaceae family related to the cycads. The plant grows slowly and lives long.
It is a monotypic species of a monotypic genus, i.e. there is only one species in the genus and only one genus in the family. Some, however, place the Australian genus of Bowenia comprising two extant and two extinct species, similar-looking to Stangeria, also in Stangeriaceae and not in its own family of Boweniaceae.
This curious South African plant is endemic to the east coast of South Africa from Bathurst in the Eastern Cape to Khosi Bay in KwaZulu-Natal. The habitat is grassland and evergreen forest close to the sea, but away from the salt spray, in shade or sun. The forest and grassland forms may not be quite identical anymore.
Leaves and cones grow from a turnip-shaped or carrot-shaped (underground) tuber. The tubers are dug up and sold on the traditional medicine market, used in treating a variety of ailments (Van Wyk, et al, 1997; Van Wyk and Gericke, 2000; Coates Palgrave, 2002; Wikipedia; www.pacsoa.org.au).