Cycas revoluta

Cycas revoluta
Royal Greenhouses of Laeken

Cycas Revoluta or Japanese Sago Palm is neither a palm nor a tree fern but part of the genus Cycas that is rather related to the conifers.

It is a living fossil from the Carboniferous era, from Japan and the Chinese coast.

It can be quite old, 50 to 100 years, and older specimen can be 6 to 7 m high. In the United Kingdom is a specimen that is said to be 220 years old.

Description:

Cycas Revoluta is a tree with a pseudo-stem of 1-3 m high and 20-45 cm in diameter.

At the top of the stem is a crown with 40 to 100 leaves. The leaves are green, tough and pinnate, 70-150 cm long and 20 to 25 cm wide when the plant is sexually mature. On both sides of the central vein is a row of small folioles of 10 to 20 cm long and 4 to 7 mm wide, ending in a sharp point. The leaf stalk is 6 to 20 cm long and both sides are covered with thorns.

The plant is dioecious and the flowers grow in the center of the leaf crown. The male inflorescence is a cone of 30 to 60 cm high and 8 to 15 cm in diameter. It is formed by elongated scales that bear sporangia at the bottom, where the pollen is located. The female inflorescence is composed of fluffy, beige-coloured small leaves with a few ova. Fertilization takes place 6 months after pollination.

The seeds are quite large, 3 to 4 cm, and reddish brown in color. Growth is very slow: 1 m in 20 to 30 years.

Beware: the plant is toxic in all parts!

Use:

Ornamental

Cycas revoluta female cone

Cycas revoluta female cone
Botanic Garden Meise

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Japanese Sago Palm, King Sago, King Sago Palm, Sago Cycas, Sago Palm, Sotesu-Nut

Synonyms:

Cycas miquelii, Cycas revoluta var. brevifrons, Cycas revoluta var. planifolia, Cycas revoluta var. prolifera, Cycas revoluta var. robusta, Epicycas miquelii

Etymology:

Cycas: from the Greek cyca (palm tree)
Revoluta: from the Latin revolutus (curled back)

Origin:

Japan and south-east coast of China.

Habitat:

On the islands it grows in thickets on slopes, on the mainland in light woods, between 0 and 1,000 m altitude.



Hardiness:

USDA zone 8-11, -8 °C

Cycas revoluta male cone

Cycas revoluta male cone
Botanic Garden Meise

Care:

Soil:

Sandy added with humus, well-draining

Exposure:

Sun, light, partial shade, shadeGrown in shade, it will form bigger leaves.

Water:

Water abundantly the first season so the root system is well established. Later waterings can be reduced. Adult plants are drought resistant.

Feed:

Prefers a solid fertilizer which releases nutrients slowly or a very diluted liquid fertilizer. Avoid strong fertilizer or fresh manure because they might damage the roots. Fertilize regularly during growing season the promote the growth, about every 2 weeks.

Temperature:

Often grown as indoor plant but prefers to spend the summer outdoors. In USDA zone 8 it is best to bring the plant inside to protect from severe frost or to provide winter protection. Young plants are not as frost resistant: -5 °C for young plants, between -8 °C and -10 °C for mature plants.

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • fresh seed is best left to mature in a cool place for 2-3 months
  • soak de seeds 1-2 days in lukewarm water
  • plant the seeds in moist sand
  • 25-30 °C
  • germination time: 2-3 months

Suckers:

  • it is best to take suckers off in the winter: the plant itself doesn’t grow but root growth is ongoing during winter
  • remove all the leaves
  • plant in a moist, well drained and sandy substrate

Image sources

  • Cycas revoluta: Own work
  • Cycas revoluta female cone: Own work
  • Cycas revoluta male cone: Own work

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