Cycas revoluta: Sago palm

Family: Cycadaceae
Common name: Sago palm, King sago, Japanese sago palm, Sago cycad

Sago palms look as good as art installations with their spiny, thick stems, and uniformly placed, arching leaves. The stems could be underground for small palms; growing above the ground as the plant grows older.

They usually grow to a height of 2-3 meters, though it can reach a height of 6-7 meters over a long period of about 50-100 years. The stem is thick, black, shaggy and spiny. Leaves are thin, dark green about 150 cms long, growing like large rosettes that are about a meter in diameter.

Since the leaves are very thin and pokey; it’s better to keep the away from walkways. While planting them, make sure they have enough space to form a large rosette of leaves when they grow.

The plant is dioecious, each plant bearing only either male or female reproductive structures. Male plants produce cones, and female plants produce sporophylls.

The plant cannot stand over-watering and might rot. It needs very little water and fertilization. Sago palm is extremely toxic, causing vomiting, diarrhea and even liver failure, if ingested. All parts of the plant are toxic, the seeds having very high concentration of toxins. It is not an indoor plant since it needs bright sunlight.

They are primarily grown as ornamental plants, though the pith can be used to make sago or Sabudhana through a very careful process that removes toxins from the starch.

Propagation is from seeds and from small plants that grow beside the parent plant.

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