Encephalartos is a genus of cycad native to Africa. Several species of Encephalartos are commonly referred to as bread palms, bread tree or Kaffir bread since a bread-like starchy food can be prepared from the centre of the stem. All the species of Encephalartos are endangered. The genus name is derived from the Greek words en (within), kephali (head), and artos (bread), referring to the use of the pith to make food.
The genus was named by German botanist Johann Georg Christian Lehmann in 1834. All cycads except Cycas had been regarded as members of the genus Zamia until then, and some botanists continued to follow this line for many years after Lehmann had separated Encephalartos as a separate genus. His concept was originally much broader than the one accepted today, including also the Australian plants we now know as Macrozamia and Lepidozamia.