Friday, 6 April 2018


Cycas or sago palms are beautiful plants dating back to the age of dinosaurs. They resemble ferns when young and look almost like palm trees when more mature.

Cyca revoluta with a double trunk

But they are neither. They belong to the group of gymnosperms among which are the conifers, the cycads themselves, gingko trees and a few others. Native to Japan they found their way all over the world, especially where it is warm. Sago is produced from them which gives them the common name of sago palm.

On my walks in the neighbourhood I encounter quite a few of these lovely plants, obviously beloved by many gardeners.What caught my attention recently was the sudden appearance of a large cone in the centre of one plant, which happens only when the plant is mature and many years old. It also shows that this is a male plant, the cone containing the pollen. Female plants produce a feathery looking centre containing the ovaries. Unfortunately there is none among all the cycas in the area or they are too young to produce. Being gymnosperms none produce flowers but a glorious display  of a new crown of leaves in February/March. 

The pollen bearing cone of a male cyca

The pollen bearing cones can grow from between 60 - 90 cm in height and can weigh up to 25 kg. the female plant produces egg-like seeds which should be harvested before they fall to the ground to prevent animals from eating them because they are poisonous. Of course the seeds can be used to propagate the plant, but that can take many months. An easier way would be to separate new plants developing on the trunk of the parent plant. 

Now I want to show you a short series of pictures taken in the second half of March when a few of the sago palms started producing their new crowns of leaves. Note the initial resemblance to ferns!

Day 2
Day 1

Day 4
Day 5

Day 7
So, within one week you see the enormous development of the leaves together with the gradual change in colour!

A few days later the crown opened out to complete the next revolution!

Fully formed leaves in gorgeous green


  1. Very useful information. Where is the sago actually taken from?

    1. The pith of the trunk yields starch which after careful washing to remove toxins is then made into sago.

  2. How awesome nature truly is.... lovely sequence!


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