A Brief History of One of the World's Rarest Plants

Kirstin Fawcett

Encephalartos woodii is a relatively nondescript plant, but it has a fascinating backstory. In the above video filmed by Great Big Story, David Cooke, who supervises the palm house at London's Royal Botanic Gardens, explains that the tropical tree is called a cycad. 

Millions of years ago, during the Jurassic period, the palm-like shrubs grew across the globe. But after the Ice Age, they dwindled in number. Today, there's only one known Encephalartos woodii specimen left in the entire world—and Cooke has looked after it for over 20 years. He explains why the leafy tree is so rare, and why its survival depends upon researchers finding it a companion.

[h/t Great Big Story]

Banner image: Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.