Encephalartos horridus, the Eastern Cape blue cycad, has been described as one of the most unusual of all the South African species. It is a small, low-growing cycad up to 0.9 m high and 0.9 m wide. It is a native of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, and found in arid shrublands, most commonly on ridges and slopes with shallow soils. The species is particularly known for its distinctly blue-grey leaves, although the degree of coloration can vary significantly. The species name horridus is Latin for 'bristly', after the plant's stiff, spiny leaflets.Mature plants have big stems of between 0.5–1 m in length and 20–30 cm in diameter with the majority of the stem growing below ground. Leaves are up to 1 m long and often sharply recurved towards the tip, looking stiff and spiny. Younger leaves are a silvery-blue colour but turn green with age.