Cycas revoluta Thunb.
Cycad, Sago Palm, King Sago Palm
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, 20-59" (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 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 as Compiled by the Master Gardeners of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension
Cycas revoluta on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Cycas revoluta on botanyboy.org
Cycas revoluta on Wikipedia
Cycas revoluta on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Cycas revoluta description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.
Range: Zones 9-11: