Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cycad, Crozier Cycas, Fern Cycas, Fern Palm, Palm-leaved Cycas, Queen Sago, Sago Palm
Cycas circinalis

Family: Cycadaceae
Genus: Cycas (SY-kas) (Info)
Species: circinalis (kir-KIN-ah-liss) (Info)

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Light Shade
Full Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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By IslandJim
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By IslandJim
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There are a total of 27 photos.
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5 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive marksgrdn On Dec 14, 2012, marksgrdn from Stockton, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I bought my Sago about 4 yrs ago after having visited a friend of mine in Austin, Tx. His was on the patio just existing. Filtered sunlight, and watered when he remember to go out and do so.
Well, I thought i'd give it a go ! It's doing very well. Had to get used to is watering needs. Very fussy at first, and now I know when and how much to water. It gets all day shade then full sun from about 430pm to sundown. I know, its the worst sun, but its thriving very well. Ive never trimed it, but on occasion some of the needles burn. I think it would die or at least hate me if I ever chose to move it from its area of the patio to which it has made it its home.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Aug 27, 2012, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

As my photo says..five years of no flush in ground and in part sun,and the plant still clung to life with a will to live. Dug up and re-potted,then placed in full sun-it flushed small,tiny stunted fronds last year.This year it has flushed again..two years in a row. The second flush fronds are much smaller then average for this Cycad but its going in the right direction! And the fronds had the right form.

I even fertilized it..I never thought that day would come.

btw,When it was in a tropical greenhouse,it would flush 3 sometimes 4 times in a year. An easy cycad for greenhouses or sunrooms.

Positive Beach_Barbie On Aug 1, 2011, Beach_Barbie from Kure Beach, NC (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is hardier than the zone report claims. It's easily hardy in zone 8 and with covering in the Winter zone 7.

Positive hettibot On Aug 29, 2008, hettibot from Gampaha
Sri Lanka wrote:

I live in Srilanka. In Srilanka, the tender leaves of Cycas circinalis are used in curries and soups after boiling in water for abuout half an hour. When boiled the toxic effect is removed.
Dry seeds are grinded and steamed the flour before use
We make a kind of bread called MADU PITTU.

Negative Equilibrium On Feb 26, 2005, Equilibrium wrote:

A native to India, the Cycas circinalis or Queen Sago Palm is actually a Cycad and not a Palm.

Although this plant does not currently appear on any lists as poisonous, it appears its seed may be toxic to animals as well as humans yet I noted an entry in which some palm seed was actually ground and used in a bread meal.

The Queen Sago has dark green attractive foliage and is slow growing. It does not branch as does the King Sago. Both appear to be very susceptible to scale so probably not a great plant for North America unless you like to spend lots of money maintaining its health with little or no guarantees the plant will survive.

Starting sagos from seed

“Often, not many seeds produce new plants. But if you wish to try, plant the seeds half way down in sterile soil and place in the shade. Keep the soil lightly moist and never wet. You likely will wait many months before any seeds sprout. Those that do, first plant in pots planning later to move to their permanent location.”

Separating baby sagos from the mother plant

“Sagos produce babies both at the soil line as well as on the main trunk in more mature King sagos. Those on the trunk can be removed with the strength of your hand. Wiggle until the "bulb" comes loose. This will leave the appearance of an indentation but is not harmful to the main plant. An idea is to "plant" something in this hole. Use only air plants so no soil is required. Plant the bulb half down in the soil in similar conditions as the mother plant. Move to a permanent location once you see it is growing. For sprouts coming from the soil line, send a large knife between the baby and the mother and sever down 6-8 inches. This will not hurt the main plant at all. If you waited until the baby is not so small anymore, you may need a shape, straight shovel to make the cut. Do nothing for 3-4 weeks. After that, use a small shovel or other tool to dig up the baby. Plant in similar conditions as the mother plant. Move to a permanent location once you see it is growing”

Yellow Leaves

“Be aware that the natural course of leaves on plants, including palms and cycads, is first green, then turning yellow, and finally brown and dry. The yellow stage is where the frond is losing its chlorophyll as it is being re-absorbed into the plant. The final brown stage is the completion of the nutrients re-absorption process. So... if you cut off sago fronds too soon, you are actually depriving your sago palm of its natural technique to conserve nutrients. Best is to wait until a frond is totally brown and shriveled up small. The exception to not being worried about yellow or brown fronds on your sago palm is if they are occurring in the center "new growth" area. If new fronds soon turn yellow and head for brown, you have a nutrition problem. You are not feeding properly. Sometimes a sago may take a year or two or more to develop the "quick yellowing" symptom. Don't let that fool you. Food is the answer.”

Scale and Fungus

“All around South Florida sago palms are suddenly turning completely white and beginning to die. The culprit is a newly (accidentally) introduced (1994) cycad scale insect…A major problem is scale re-infection. Even if you kill off all the scales on your sagos, they can come back and frequently they do. They come from other infected sagos near your home. The point is, re-check often (say, monthly) with the finger test. If re-infection occurs, re-spray (the whole 4x or 5x cycle) all over again... As a sago is weakened by scale infestation, fungus can attack the plant. The fungus may be the actual fatal enemy.”

Neutral palmbob On Aug 16, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Cycas circinalis is NOT the same is C. rumphii, although most plants identified as C. circinalis are really C. rumphii or something similar. The true C. circinalis is actually a pretty rare plant, with a much smaller habit and smaller leaflets and leaves than the massive C. rumphii commonly used in landscaping in the more tropical areas of the world. However for now, we will just keep this identification as is since 99% of the world knows this plant by this name, incorrectly or not.

This is another common landscape cycad, as well as a common potted plant in the warmer areas of the world. It's cold hardiness, as well as its tolerance for hot summer sun do not match the much more common Cycas circinalis or Sago Palm. But it is still a relatively hardy plant. THis grows quite tall and some specimens can get easily over 20-30' tall. A comment was made that this species does not branch, but it certainly does, particularly in tropical climates. Some plants I have seen in Hawaii have dozens of branches- the entire plant takes up about fifteen to twenty feet in all directions, well above ground level. Branches fall off all the time and have to be discarded (though these can be rooted if one takes the time). It is a much more graceful and 'user-friendly' cycad than is the common Sago Palm in that it has soft, spineless leaflets. However, if pruning one, you will discover that closer to the caudex/trunk it is not so friendly there and you will encounter a number of very sharp though short spines in parallel rows along the petioles. Use gloves.

This plant is indeed quite toxic and is probably no less toxic than any other cycad (all are toxic) with the seeds being the most toxic parts... or at least the most likely to be eaten by children and pets. However, this plant does tend to seed at a much greater height than does a Sago Palm, so inadvertent seed ingestion of ripe seed is much less likely. Fallen seed usually is dried up and not only less toxic (but still toxic) but certainly less interesting and edible tasting.

Positive IslandJim On Sep 29, 2002, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

The queen sago is larger and softer than the king sago. The fronds are often 6' to 7' long and quite feathery. It sets seeds a bit differenty than the king, also; they cling to long, exposed ribbon-like structures. The seeds are green and about the size of a goose egg when ripe.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Fallbrook, California
Hayward, California
Santa Barbara, California
Stockton, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Tulare, California
Cape Coral, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Lake Helen, Florida
Rincon, Georgia
Hana, Hawaii
Colfax, Louisiana
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Portland, Oregon
Leander, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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