Sago Palms

Cycads and their Golden Age

Cycads and their Golden Age

Joseph Brider, Natural Heritage Trust.
First published online (19 Feb 2021).

Japanese Sage-palm Cycad (Cycas revoluta) showing a mature plant with male (top) and female (bottom) reproductive organs in the right-hand inserts. The composite image was prepared by Gerald McCormack

Japanese Sago-palm with male reproductive structure in top insert and female structures in bottom insert. Photo: CINHT

What do Japanese Sago-palms, Queen Sago-palms and Cardboard Palms all have in common? Well… they are NOT palms, they are all Cycads! The ‘palm’ reference comes from the shape of their leaves and cylindrical trunks but these plants are not even closely related to palms!

These recently introduced plants to the Cook Islands represent a very, very old lineage of plants that predate the dinosaurs.  These are very slow-growing, long lived plants with some specimens in the wild being over 1000 years old1. A particular specimen of Cycad in Kew Gardens in the UK arrived at their botanical garden in 1775, making it 246 years old in 2021. Consequently, it also holds the record for being the oldest potted plant in the world2.

Let’s dive in and learn about the charismatic, but often misunderstood plants.

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  1. Hill, K., & Stevenson, D. (1998). The Cycad Pages. The Cycad Pages. Retrieved from []
  2. Avis-Riordan, K. (2019, 07/23/2019). Meet the oldest pot plant in the world. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Retrieved from []
Posted by Joseph in Ecology, Plants, Terrestrial, 0 comments