sago-palm-female-flower2The Cycas revoluta is commonly called the Sago palm. Actually it is not really a palm but a cycad. Most people think it is a palm tree because of its appearance.

The cycad is a plant with a crown of large, stiff, fern-like leaves and a stout trunk. The leaves are pinnate, glossy, dark-green in color and about three-five feet in length and 9 inches in width. The leaflets are hard, narrow and have recurved edges. That’s why the plant is often called the revoluta which means curl back.

Once a year in the spring or early summer the Sago palm produces a whole circle of new light green leaves which emerge all at once.

sago-palm-male-flower3Young species have a subterranean trunk. As Sago palms grow they slowly form a trunk about 4-6 feet in height. This is a very long process, and it can take from 50 to 100 years. Some species can reach up more than 20 feet in height, but it requires hundreds of years to achieve this height.

As the Sago palm grows, its trunk can brunch multiple times. The plant produces offsets or pups at the base and forms large multi-stems clumps.

Sago palms are dioecious, they are either males or females. Male and female plants look exactly the same, but their reproductive structures look very different.

The plants start to produce reproductive structures in the middle of the crown of leaves after 20-25 years. Male plants produce a corn-shaped reproductive structure that grows to a height of 12-18 inches in length. It is gold or tan-yellow in color. Female Sago palms form a globe-shaped, spherical flower which is also gold or tan-yellow in color.

The male Sago palm tree pollinates the female flower, beginning in the late spring and early summer. When the female flower is receptive to pollen, it will slowly open up. Pollination can occur by wind or by insects. The female plant forms bright orange to red walnut sized seeds that mature during mid-summer to fall.

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