Cycas revoluta

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Figure 1. A very attractive C. revoluta at Huntington Gardens, Los Angeles.


Common Names:

Sago Palm, Sago Cycad, King Sago, Japanese Sago Palm


Temperate to tropical. Frost and drought tolerant.

Distribution & Habitat:

It is found in thickets on hillsides on the southern Japanese islands of Kyushu and Ryukyu, and in sparse forests on the Chinese mainland in east Fujian (Lianjiang Xian, Ningde Xian, and some islands). It was formerly widely distributed in east Fujian but is now probably extinct in habitat there due to over collection and habitat destruction. Usually found between 100 and 500 m. altitude.


A low growing cycad, however older specimens will develop a trunk about 200 mm (9 ins) across, and up to 6 metres (6 feet) high, for a VERY (several centuries) old, plant. Usually single trunked, although it is not uncommon for a plant to through "pups", offshoots which can be removed and potted up. It has feather like leaves, up to 900 mm (36 ins) long, with the leaflets being a very dark glossy green, stiff and pointed, and about 100 mm (4 ins) long.

The female inflorescense is feather like, later forming a tightly packed seed head, closely covered by whitish miniature leaves. The male cone is pineapple shaped. Seeds are brownish-red, the shape of a flattened marble, about 30 mm( 1.25 ins) across.

Figure 2. C. revoluta male cone.
Figure 3. C. revolutawith a lovely new flush of leaves.


This is the most popular and widely cultivated of the cycads. It makes an excellent landscape plant, as well being very well suited to pot culture, and even bonsai (see Bonsai Cycads). Best kept away from paths, since the leaves are quite spiky. It is a very hardy plant (like most cycads), tolerating dry periods, and light frosts. It prefers a sunny, well drained spot, with deep soil, but will still thrive in less than ideal conditions. Very easily propagated from seed, as well as from offshoots or "pups" (see Figure 7). The advantage of the "pups" is that you will know its sex, for seedlings you will have to wait several years until the plant flowers to find out. Usually slow growing, however good conditions can speed it up considerably.

Figure 4. Nicely grown plant of C. revoluta
Figure 5. A very attractive C. revolutawith a male cone.
Figure 6. A very attractive clumping C. revoluta.
Figure 7. C. revoluta- close-up of maturing seeds.
Figure 8. C. revoluta- female cone surrounded by the fronds of basal suckers.

Contributed by:

Paul Kennedy (Figure 1,7&8)
Brad Read (Figure 2&5)
Allan Brooks (Figure 3&4)
Bruce Rogers (Figure 6)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown, Wikipedia, JungleMusic

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums