Monday, May 4, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sago palm: A survivor of harsh winter

By
From page D4 | March 02, 2014 |

Wandering through the yard recently, I had some surprises seeing what survived our strange winter. Some people persist in saying that we didn’t have a winter, since we didn’t have much rain. However, I spent too many evenings putting sheets on my citrus plants in containers to protect them from frost to agree with these naysayers.

We had many freezing or below-freezing nights and mornings this winter. Not unexpectedly, since they are known to be tender, I lost a container avocado tree that I had grown from seed. More unusually I lost my lion’s tail, leonotis leonurus, a perennial that had weathered many a winter here. My salvia mexicana “limelight” appears to be history as well.

Several plants that generally sail through our winters were damaged. My pineapple guava, feijoa sellowiana, and rosemary had both just been cut back to supply boughs for the Master Gardener Wreath Workshop when the freezes began. I suspect this made the plants more susceptible to the frost. My cheerful euryops pectinatus and my azaleas are all alive and even blooming, but were definitely injured.

In stark contrast, there is a plant that sits between my rosemary bush and the dead lion’s tail shrub. Not only is it uninjured, it is thriving and positively perky. This sago palm, cycas revoluta, is one of my biggest surprises this winter. It’s not often that something this tropical in appearance turns out to be such a survivor of harsh weather.

A sago palm is not in the palm family at all. It belongs to a group of cone-bearing plants, cycads, which are very ancient and are distant relatives of the conifers. Sago palms are originally from Japan. When young, the sago palm looks fernlike with its long, leathery, but airy leaves growing out from a central point in a rosette pattern.

These plants are very slow growers and over time the central growth point can lift up off the ground on a thick brown trunk. In the ground, they can hit more than 10 or 15 feet tall over a period of 50 to 100 years. Their fronds can be several feet long. In pots they tend to stay much smaller in size. These plants can even be grown as bonsai.

These primitive plants do not have flowers. There are separate male and female plants and they produce cones. The male cone produces spores, not pollen, which can be transferred to a female plant. The female cone, which is somewhat basketball-like in appearance, forms in the center of the plant. Once spores from the male plant reach the female cone, large red seeds will form. Apparently this is a pretty rare occurrence in container plants. The plants can also be grown from offshoots that form at the base of the mother plant.

The plants are very adaptable Sunset Western Garden Book says they can be grown in Zones 8-24 plus H1 and H2. They can tolerate high or low humidity. They can be grown in full sun or in partial shade, although they don’t appreciate being switched back and forth. The leaves will be a richer green if grown in partial shade.

They do require good drainage and if they don’t get it, they can develop root rot. Once established, they can be fairly drought-tolerant, despite their lush appearance. According to UC Davis IPM website, the main pest problems are scale, both cycad and oleander, and mealy bugs. They can suffer from mineral deficiencies, most particularly that of manganese.

So lush plants with low to moderate water needs, easily maintained, that can be grown in the ground or in containers; they are perfect, right? There are a few more things you need to know. The tips of the leaflets are sharp. There are also spines along the petiole of the leaf, the part that connects it back to the central area. These are not plants that should be placed along walkways. Put them where they can be seen, but not rubbed up against.

Even more importantly, all parts of the sago palm, cycas revoluta, are poisonous to pets and humans if eaten. The seeds contain the highest amount of toxin. Ingestion can lead to bleeding, liver failure, and convulsions. In looking at reports on the Internet, most of the reports involve dogs, and there is a high mortality rate. So be aware and be warned. However, in the proper setting, sago palms are beautiful, tough, and definitely survivors.

Karen Metz is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    New Torah being written for Solano County Jews

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    May the 4th be with you . . . and me

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

    Vacaville centers hosts holiday-related events

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Vacaville Museum celebrates historic pioneer girl

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Chambers of commerce plan Cinco de Mayo event

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
     
    Tickets available for Dixon May Fair, sneak peek

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Local governments set to meet

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Napa Valley College site of Girls on the Run event

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Putah Creek Council plans bat outing

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
     
    Fairfield police log: May 2, 2015

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Suisun City police log: May 2, 2015

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Suisun City police log: May 1, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Fairfield police log: May 1, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

    Biz Buzz: First Northern Bank announces earnings

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

     
    Weather for Monday, May 4, 2015

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

    Biz Buzz: Sleep Train continues clothing drive

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Biz Buzz: Solano College site of business expo

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

    Touching, funny, messages in obits getting wide audience

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Google embeds engineers as professors

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Oyez! Town crier at royal baby birth captures attention

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Quakes hit California, but no damage or injuries reported

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Labor assists marijuana legalization effort in California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Survey: States spent heavily to clear winter snow and ice

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    City: 2 gunmen killed outside Muhammad cartoon contest

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    In Congress, income inequality comes with breakfast, lunch

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Slain trooper’s parents say they forgive suspected ambusher

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Baltimore mayor lifts curfew 6 days after riots

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Merkel joins survivors, US vets to mark Dachau liberation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Italy: At least 10 migrants found dead in sea off Libya

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Arab coalition ‘reconnaissance’ troops land in Yemen

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Nepal shuts airport to big jets; more bodies found

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    With rescue near, Boko Haram stoned Nigerian girls to death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    .

    Living

    Catholics honor mother of church with special event

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Today in history: Monday, May 4, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Community Calendar: May 4, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Returning home puts far-flung choices in relief

    By Sharon Randall | From Page: B5

    Family member has still not paid for commissioned artwork

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

     
    Horoscope: May 4, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

    ‘Avengers’ sequel is second biggest US opener of all time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Wanted by the US, Roman Polanski gets film award in Poland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Ashes of ballerina Plisetskaya to be spread over Russia

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    New project in US South promotes music “triangle”

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    TVGrid May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    JC softball: Solano eliminated after late rally comes up short

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    AP Source: Warriors star Stephen Curry to be named NBA MVP

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. cruises to 1st Talladega win since 2004

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    McIlroy top of the world at Match Play Championship

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Warriors roll past Grizzlies 101-86 in Game 1 of West semis

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Vonn says relationship with Woods is over

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    5-year drought ends as Chelsea is champion of England again

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Montoya fastest on opening day of Indy tests

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    LeBron, Cavs ready to take on raging Bulls

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Paul questionable as Clippers and Rockets begin series

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    James Taylor debuts new song about Fenway, at Fenway

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Westbrook, Valiante win IMSA Tudor race at Monterey

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Inbee Park wins North Texas Shootout for 2nd time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Ian Woosnam wins Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Royals’ Lorenzo Cain drops appeal, begins serving suspension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Unusually wild Gray, Vogt HRs carry A’s past Rangers 7-1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Texas the front line on high school ECG debate

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Giants beat Angels 5-0 behind Lincecum for 3-game sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Mayweather takes his $100 million check and runs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    This date in sports history for May 4

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Beal leads well-rested Wizards past Hawks 104-98 in Game 1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Cable, pay-per-view problems leave viewers fighting mad

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Arthur Martin

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Ora May Bray

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

    Lois G. Johnston (Leib) (Bayard)

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Wizard of Id May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Zits May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    B.C. May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Get Fuzzy May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Garfield May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Blondie May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Frank and Ernest May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Dilbert May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Word Sleuth May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Bridge May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Cryptoquote May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Crossword May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Sudoku May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Zits May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Garfield May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    B.C. May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Peanuts May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Frank and Ernest May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Blondie May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Baldo May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Wizard of Id May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Beetle Bailey May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Pickles May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    For Better or Worse May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Get Fuzzy May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Dilbert May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Rose is Rose May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Bridge May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Sudoku May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Cryptoquote May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7