‘Cycas revoluta’ commonly known as ‘Sago palm’ belongs to the family cycadaceae. It’s an ancient plant belonging to gymnosperms dating back to the age of the dinosaurs. Cycas name is derived from Greek koikas and revoluta is derived from Latin revolutum meaning “rolled back”. It’s a Xerophytic plant widely distributed in South-Eastern Japan and Ryukyu Islands. Cycas is also designated as Living Fossil in plant literature.
- revoluta is widely used as a landscape plant and is also quite popular as a bonsai. Leaves are also used as cut foliage in flower arrangements. Main trunk is simple 2- 3 meter tall and rarely branched. It is a very slow growing plant attaining the height of 12-15 feet in 40-50 years. Plant growth is very slow adding a new crown of leaves every 1 or 2 years, alternating with the crown of scale leaves. Two types of leaves are present in Cycas i.e. foliage and scaly leaves. Scaly leaves are small, dry persistent, rough and brown in colour for water conservation, whereas, foliage leaves are glossy green, large pinnately compound with sunken mid rib and re-curved edges.
Propagation Seeds of Sago Palm show a very low percentage of germination. Vegetative propagation by division is faster and easy. Vegetative reproduction is done by means of offsets or bulbils which grow on the main trunk and produce a new plant on detachment. It’s necessary to sterilize the tools before segregating the offsets. The detached plant is planted in sand under partial shade for rooting purpose. Rooting will take place in a couple of months. The best time for transplanting of rooted plants is either spring or rainy season.
Soil/potting media Sandy or loamy soil having slightly acidic to neutral soil reaction with good drainage is considered best for its growth. For container growing, potting mixture consisting of 2 parts of garden soil, 1 part of well decomposed FYM and half to one part of sand is considered an ideal mixture.
Flowering & Seed Propagation: Flowers are dioecious in nature, starts flowering from May till end of July and seeds ripen from October to November. Male plants have pollen bearing cones borne singly at the apex of trunk. Female cone is characterised by loose and spirally arranged fronds at the apex of the stem and gives an appearance like rosette.
Planting time February to March and July to August
Care and maintenance Sago palm grows best at warm and humid conditions, under good light conditions. Watering at the crown may damage the plant. Water stagnation can cause damage to the plant. To avoid this problem, plant it in an elevated location. In order to maintain its vigour, re-potting is necessary after 3-4 years. Protective wrapping and mulching helps in protecting the stem from severe cold. Pruning is required when leaves turn completely brown. Cut the fronds as close to the trunk as possible with help of sterilised pruning shears or hand pruners.
Landscape use Though Cycas is a non-flowering plant, yet the striking form and foliage can give a bold, formal and architectural look to the landscape. C. revoluta is considered the most distinctive, resilient, elegant, and easy to grow, often purchased indoor plant. Due to its unique, refined foliage and thick trunk, it adds the touch of exotic life to a living and dining area of the house.
- It can fairly tolerate drought and salinity after establishment.
- It can be used to beautify beds and borders
- It can also be used as a specimen plant in lawns, containers and rock gardens.
- Cycads create good mass effect when planted in group
- It can be used to make a focal point in the centre of the lawn. We can incorporate stone or rocks nearby to accentuate its appeal.
Problems Generally it does not face any problem but still a few like
- Twisted leaves are the sign of lack of luminosity or excess water.
- Yellowing of leaves may be due to improper planting, pest attack (scale bugs), frost or lack of nutrients
- Little black spots appear on leaves or stems are actually sooty mold which is a fungus. It can be easily washed off by a steady stream of water.
- Wilting and leaf drop is a sign of root rot which is often caused by poorly drained, compact soil or over flooding. Root rot results in colour fading, leaf fall and ultimately leaf wilt. Remove the affected foliage and use any systemic fungicide such as Benlate or Benomyl.
- New growth of Sago palm is attacked by caterpillars (Blue cycads butterfly). Eggs are laid under the surface of leaves and larvae attack during the night period. This can be prevented by spraying soap solution or drenching the crow
SOURCE OF THE ARTICLE: Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab