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Cycas revoluta Thunb.

Cycad, sago palm, king sago palm

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionCycadophytaAll cycads—primitive palm-like plants
OrderCycadalesLiving cycads (most are extinct)
FamilyCycadaceaeVery ancient tropical gymnospermous plants resembling palms, but showing a close relationship to ferns and lower groups in that fertilization takes place by means of spermatozoids
SpeciesrevolutaRolled back from the margin or apex, revolute

About plant names...

The sago cycad is native to southern Japan, and not found in the wild in North America. Often called a sago palm or king sago palm, it is a cycad, not a palm. Cycads are really a cross between ferns and gymnosperms (cone-bearing plants). Cycads are seriously ancient plants, around 300 million years ago, long before the first flowering plants appeared.

Identification: Plants are composed of a series of palmlike fronds emerging in all directions from a thick, shaggy trunk. It favors rocky shores and high humidity in its native habitat. The trunk is 8″ (20 cm) in diameter, growing very slowly from ground height (it can appear there is no trunk at all) to 20-23′ (6-7 m), often branching into several groups of leaves. Leaves are dark, glossy, 1½-5′ (50-150 cm) long, with sharp-pointed leaflets 3-7″ (8-18 cm) long; leaves form rosettes about 3-6½′ (1-2 m) around. Male cones are cone-shaped, and 8-14″ (20-35 cm) in height; female "cones" are mound-shaped and shaggy, about 10-14″ (25-35 cm) in diameter. Both are tan-colored.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones Plants contain cycasin and other toxins, and can be fatal when eaten. Horses, cats and dogs find these cycads appealing, and the death rate for pets who eat them is a startling 50-75%! Although portions of the plant (seeds, stem) are edible with proper preparation, this is only true after poisons have been removed.

Cycas revoluta (cycad, sago palm, king sago palm)

Male cone of Cycas revoluta. By Stan Shebs. 7/2001.

Online References:


Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants





Cycas revoluta description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Cycas revoluta (cycad, sago palm, king sago palm)

Bonsai. · 12/12/2016 · Bonsai West, Littleton, Mass­a­chu­setts

Cycas revoluta (cycad, sago palm, king sago palm)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, Cali­fornia

Cycas revoluta (cycad, sago palm, king sago palm)

Female cone. · 10/19/1977 · Bermuda Botanical Gardens, Bermuda ID is uncertain

Range: Zones 9-11:

About this map...