Cycas circinalis - L.
Common Name Sago Palm, Queen sago, Fern Palm, Queen Sago Palm
Family Cycadaceae
USDA hardiness 10-11
Known Hazards The plants contain alkaloids of carcinogens and also an amino-acid that causes chronic nervous disorders[200]. Regular consumption of the plant leads to severe health problems and death. This toxic principle can be removed if the food is properly prepared but consumption of the plant still cannot be recommended because its use often means the death of the plant and it is becoming rare in the wild.
Habitats Forest undergrowth[146].
Range E. Indies.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

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Form: Palm.

Cycas circinalis Sago Palm, Queen sago, Fern Palm, Queen Sago Palm
Cycas circinalis Sago Palm, Queen sago, Fern Palm, Queen Sago Palm
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Cycas circinalis is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Insects, wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

C. beddomei.

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Gum.

The pith is rich in carbohydrate and a sago can be made from it[2, 46, 61, 177]. This use will kill the plant[K]. The raw seed is poisonous, but after being cut into thin slices, dried, then steeped in water for a few minutes and dried again, it becomes edible[2, 61, 63, 146, 177]. It can be used as a sago[2]. Using the seed for food cannot be recommended, however. See the notes above on toxicity. The very young leaves are edible[177]. The plant yields a gum[64, 146, 171]. No further details are given.
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Narcotic;  Poultice;  Stomachic.

The pollen is narcotic[240]. The bark and the seeds are ground to a paste with oil and used as a poultice on sores and swellings[240]. The juice of tender leaves is useful in the treatment of flatulence and vomiting[240].


Other Uses

None known
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Specimen. Requires a strong loam with sharp sand and good drainage[1]. Succeeds in dry soils. Requires a sunny position[188]. This species is not fully hardy in Britain and requires greenhouse or conservatory protection over the winter, but it can be grown outdoors in the summer[1]. Plants are slow-growing[188]. This plant is often used as a food source in its native range but recent research has shown that it can cause chronic nervous disorders if it is not treated properly. Overall its use is not to be recommended, especially since it is becoming rare in the wild[200]. The plants produce special upward growing roots where nitrogen is produced in symbiosis with algae[175]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, There are no flowers or blooms.
Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe, 2cm deep in individual pots which are then sealed in plastic bags to keep them moist until germination takes place. Germinates in 1 - 3 months at 25°c[164]. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours in warm water then treat as above. Division of suckers in the spring[188].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Cycas revolutaJapanese Sago Palm, Sago palm, King Sago Palm22


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Botanical References
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Readers comment
abc   Sat Jan 14 2006
C. circinalis has been linked with motor neuron disorders, parkinsons and alzheimers type dementia.
Rick   Fri Mar 7 2008
i believe this is also the plant that's described as the "possible" cause of the Lytico-bodig endemic on Gaum. In Oliver Sacks' Island of the Colorblind. According to the toxicity i think it is.
Are you sure the edible plant referred to isn't this one, also commonly called "Sago Palm"? I have never heard of anyone eating any part of a cycad and living.   Sep 12 2011 12:00AM
   Sep 12 2011 12:00AM
Hmm--disregard previous comment. After further reading, I see that you can also get sago from the cycad--though I think it would make more sense to list the palm here, at least as a safe alternative to the cycad.
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Subject : Cycas circinalis  

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