x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Plant Library: Cycas revoluta

Commonly known as the sago palm, this plant has been around since the age of dinosaurs – and it isn't a palm at all.

sago palm
sago palm

Cycas revoluta (Japanese sago, sago palm)

This palm actually isn't a palm at all. It's a living fossil. More correctly, it's a cycad, a member of the cycadaceae family and a group of plants that dominated the landscape at the same time as the dinosaurs. A native of Japan's southernmost islands, cycads are used to high rainfall and humidity in their natural habitat. However, they are often used as landscape plants in the UAE, where small groups form highly effective focal points. To thrive here, cycads need protection from full sun and are best planted in partial shade or as part of an understorey. Given that they are extremely slow growing, large cycads are often suspiciously cheap and I would only buy one from a reputable source. Smaller specimens are often grown as houseplants because they thrive in containers.