Cycas circinalis or Queen Sago is a native of the Old World Tropics. This species is the fastest growing member of the cycad family, with trunks often reaching 20 feet (6 m) in height and branching infrequently. The upright pinnate leaves reach 8 feet (2 m) in length on mature plants, with individual leaflets reaching about 12 inches (60 cm) long. Our plant in the greenhouse is planted in the ground and grows fast enough that we have to cut the main trunk out every 4 years or so. The Queen Sago is the principle source of Sago in the tropics. They are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 10-11.
Blooming: Our plant in the greenhouse produces sporophylls after offsets are about 3 years old. Since we have a female and no male, the seeds are hollow and never reach the size of a pollinated seed (exceeding the size of a walnut).
Culture: Cycas circinalis need full sun to partial shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of coarse sand and loam. Plants in containers are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. They are fertilized monthly during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter months, the temperatures never drop below 60°F (15°C), water is restricted and fertilizer is withheld until new growth starts in the spring.
Propagation: Cycas circinalis is propagated by the removal of offsets during the winter months or from seed. Seed planted in equal parts sand and loam will germinate in 3-6 months at 85°F (27° C).
Cycas circinalis was featured as Plant of the Week October 7-13, 2005.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.