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A Floridata Plant Profile #160 Cycas circinalis
Common Names: queen sago, false sago, fern palm
Family: Cycadaceae (cycad Family)
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Palm  Perennial  Drought Tolerant Can be Grown in Containers Grows Well Indoors. Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual or Interesting Foliage

queen sago
The stately queen sago lends regal beauty wherever she is planted (especially when the light green foliage is unfurling in spring).
Like other cycads, the queen sago resembles a palm tree with its featherlike leaves arranged in a rosette that crowns a single trunk. It is a larger and more graceful version of its more commonly encountered cousin, the Japanese or king sago (Cycas revoluta). The queen sago's solitary trunk can grow to 20 ft (6.1 m) in height, more than twice that of the Japanese sago. In older specimens some branching may occur, producing very handsome plants with multiple crowns.

The dark green pinnate leaves grow to 8 ft (2.4 m) in length with narrow 12 in (30.5 cm) leaflets that curve gracefully downward. New leaves are light green and contrast dramatically with the older foliage. This species is dieocious, with male and female reproductive parts on separate plants. In late winter the male and female "cones" emerge from the centers of the plants. Pollen from the male cones fertilizes the female cones. A colorful show results later in the season when female plants produce large orange seeds in a conelike structure located in the center of the rosette of leaves.

Queen sago (Cycas circinalis) is native to equatorial Africa. It is now a popular landscape item in frost free areas everywhere.

Queen sago is tolerant of most soils, but prefers loose sandy soils with some organic matter and light bark or leaf mulch.
Light: Bright conditions are best. Queen sago can take full sun and moderate shade as well.
Moisture: Queen sago needs adequate moisture but will tolerate occasional short-lived droughts. Make sure the soil is well drained or roots will rot.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 10-11. This plant is not cold hardy and must be protected from frost and freezing temperatures.
Propagation: The sagos are propagated by seed. Press seeds to half their depth in moist sand. Kept moist and in a warm environment, the seeds will usually germinate in 8 to 12 weeks.

queen sago foliage
Although graceful in appearance, the queen sago's long leaves are tough and durable.
This beautiful cycad looks great almost anywhere! Queen sago is great for entryways or by the patio. It is especially effective when used as a focal point on a large expanse of lawn. Pop one in a mixed shrub border to add contrasting texture. In recent years, specimens in South Florida have been under attack from a fungus disease and from scale insects. Treat with fungicide when necessary to control spotting. Scale infestations can be treated with applications of OrtheneTM and alternating applications of horticultural oil and insecticidal soap solutions.

This is a great plant that is relatively easy to grow and that lends a real sense of the tropics to any environment. Queen sago is readily available for a reasonable price from garden centers and nurseries in frostfree areas of the country.

A flour is obtained from the seeds. This must be thoroughly washed and processed to remove toxins. There is evidence that long term use of such flour, even if properly prepared, may still result in paralysis and other neurological disorders over time.

This plant contains neurotoxins that can paralyze or kill livestock that graze on it.

Jack Scheper 07/27/98; updated 2/20/04; Steve Christman 6/6/06

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