Sago palm

Cycas cf. revoluta (Cycadaceae)

Characteristics

Very symmetrical plant, up to 6 m tall (however, it is very slow-growing and requires about 50-100 years to achieve this height). Crown of shiny, dark green leaves on a thick shaggy trunk, typically about 20 cm in diameter. Sago palms are dioecious (male and female plant individuals). The sexual reproduction takes place after 10 years of exclusive vegetative growth which occurs by bulbils arising at the base of the trunk.

Cycas is a very ancient genus of trees. The group achieved its maximum diversity in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, when it was distributed almost worldwide. At the end of the Cretaceous, when the non-avian dinosaurs became extinct, so did most of the Cycas species in the Northern Hemisphere.

Distribution

Native to Japan. Widespread as an ornamental plant. The genus Cycas is native to the Old World, with the species concentrated around the equatorial regions.

Natural Medical Properties

The pollen is narcotic.
The bark and the seeds are ground to a paste with oil and used as a poultice on sores and swellings.

The juice of tender leaves is useful in the treatment of flatulence and vomiting.

Did you know?

“Sago palm” is not a palm tree (Arecaceae) at all. It is a gymnosperm and therefore related to plants like Ginkgo and Conifers (pines, yews etc.).

It is one of several species used for the production of sago (starch extracted from the spongy center of various tropical stems, mostly of palms, especially those of Metroxylon sagu – “true sago palm”).

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species