It is hard to find words to describe the amazing beauty of this cycad, which is undoubtedly the very best of its genus, and certainly among the best of all cycads. A short, mostly underground caudex to 25 cm (10 in.) in diameter gives rise to just one or two large, ascending leaves with elegantly arching tips, that can reach a length of up to 4 m (13 ft.). The complexly branched, broad, dark bluish green and highly glossy leaflets are arranged in a rather flat, only slightly keeled leaf surface that does not produce the very bushy appearance like the leaves of the closely related C. debaoensis do, itsself a magnificent species that, nevertheless, is put in the shade by the intricate leaf design of C. multipinnata. Native to two small areas in Southeast Asia, the Red River gorge in eastern Yunnan, China and Yen Bai Province in northern Vietnam, it grows in evergreen forests on steep limestone slopes. As with so many plants, C. multipinnata is endangered by the deforestation of its habitat and its caudexes being taken from the wild for horticulture, a practice that has a long tradition, especially in China, and is aided by the international demand among certain cycad collectors for mature plants.