Monday, May 5, 2008

Queen Sago - Cycas circinalis

The Queen Sago (Cycas circinalis) is not really a true palm even though you would not think so by looking at it. It is in reality a "cycad" and a close relative of the Cycas Revoluta which is a common house plant. This "pseudo-palm" also goes by the name "fern palm". It is sometimes confused with the true Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu).
The image above is not the fruit of this plant but rather a new set of leaves (as the Queen Sago is not a palm they are in fact leaves and not fronds). This plant produces male and female "cones". In the next image you can see the detail of the leaflets on the alternately compound leaves.

It is not difficult to see from the leaves how the Queen Sago could be confused with a true palm.

It is a bit difficult to tell in the picture below but this Queen Sago that I found in the "Jardin Botanico-Historico ConcepciĆ³n" has a main stem that has divided into five about six feet off the ground.
I read somewhere that the reason this cycad is called by the name "sago" is that it can also be used a source of sago starch much like the true Sago Palm.

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