Introduction to Highlands Cycads

Author: John Firth

John Firth is the 4th generation family owner of Hillcrest Game Estates (a Firth Group subsidiary). Other farming subsidiaries within the Firth Group include pecan nuts (Maquassi Spruit Pecan Nuts), cycad propagation and preservation (Highlands Cycads), and Brangus and Wagyu beef businesses.


It is a privilege and an pleasure for me to be introducing Highlands Cycads to our readers. This edition of our newsletter also officially features the launch of our brand new Highlands Cycads logo which will serve as the visual focal point for the Highlands Cycads brand. Going forward, we hope to present more exciting information about what’s happening at Highlands Cycads (a Firth Group subsidiary). 

For now though, I invite you to allow me to share a few words about my love for cycads and why Highlands Cycads is such a personal passion of mine.

Our New Highlands Cycads Logo

One of our prized cycads to be seen at Highlands Cycads in Wolmaransstad

Extent of the Highlands Cycads cycad operation (in Wolmaransstad)

Operating under an official nursery permit, we house and care for a significant collection of mature cycads, young cycads, and (baby) seedling cycads — many of which are currently being cared for in purpose-built hothouses on the Highlands Cycads farm. A further interesting fact is that we also carry a complete collection of the South African indigenous cycad genera. Propagation of seeds and seedlings remains a priority at Highlands Cycads. This way, we are going above and beyond towards the preservation of this ancient and special species of rare cycad flora.

Essential nursery care is paramount. Without it, propagation of cycads on a grand scale would not be possible.

At Highlands Cycads, our cycads are loved. Nothing short of the very best nursery-care for every plant.

Farm foreman, Bennie Groenewald inspects one of Highlands Cycads mature plants. Regular inspection of all cycad plants ensures that their health is maintained.

Cycad-care at Highlands Cycads promotes environmental appreciation for rare cycad flora

Every single employee who works at Highlands Cycads (myself included) shares a genuine environmental appreciation for rare cycad flora. We strive to go above and beyond in our ongoing efforts to care for and protect these amazing ‘living fossils’ so that the next generation will have every reasonable opportunity to share our passion and love of cycads. Similar to the Patek Philippe slogan (Ed. which relates to rare expensive watches), a slight adaption to the slogan might read something like this—something we truly believe to be true for cycads: “You never actually own a cycad. You merely look after it for the next generation.

On the not too distant horizon: keen cycad enthusiasts will be able to visit the Highlands Cycads' ‘Cycad Jurassic Park

On the not too distant horizon, keen cycad enthusiasts will be able to visit Highlands Cycads’ very own and truly unique ‘Cycad Jurassic Park’. The primary aim of this project, is to create a large open natural environment where all types of cycad genera will be well-protected without the threat of being stolen for illegal trade. These cycads will co-exist with wild animals (from the Hillcrest Game Estates game ranch), including buffalo, rhino, and a variety of big game species.

Visitors will be able to spend anything from a couple of hours to an overnight stay, in order to view and enjoy the rare beauty that is to be seen in our very own collection of indigenous cycad flora and wild animal fauna. Cycad Jurassic Park will be a space where large cycads can be transplanted and kept safely for future generations. This project will also afford cycad-lovers the opportunity to make a personal contribution towards the preservation of cycads—by planting their own cycads in the open veld. Cycad Jurassic Park is going to be a massive cycad sanctuary in a completely natural environment, to the benefit of all true cycad lovers and enthusiasts.

Seedlings and young cycads plants being prepared for Cycad Jurassic Park

Young cycads plants ready to be transplanted to Highlands Cycads' very own and truly unique Cycad Jurassic Park


In time soon to come, myself and the team at Highlands Cycads look forward to engaging with the larger cycad community. Please feel free to email us or visit us on the farm.


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