Monday, June 18, 2012

Toxic Cycad

CC: Cycas revoluta, more commonly known as the Sago Palm is an interesting specimen that is native to southern Japan. This plant was first noted around the late eighteenth century and belongs to the Cycadaceae family, meaning that it is not a true palm.  C. revoluta favors warm temperate and subtropical regions with a well-drained sandy soil to avoid rots. The Sago Palm is fairly cold tolerant but cannot typically grow in cooler climates due to a heat requirement of 86-95 degrees Fahrenheit in order to have continual growth. These trees actually reach about 20-25 feet in height but due to their extremely slow growth rate we typically see them at about 4 feet. To reach maximum height it can take anywhere from 50-100 years. Although C. revoluta has become one of the most widely used cycads in landscaping the entire plant is toxic to all animals including humans. In regards to Sago Palm ingestion, 50-75% of cases result in the death of animals. A few symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, liver failure and seizures. The seed contains the highest level of toxin called cycasin.
Interestingly enough, the Vatican Gardens houses a prime collection of Cycas revoluta which we visited Tuesday June 12th. These beauties ranged from about 4- 20 feet in height showing their long standing existence. I was so surprised to see the extreme height compared to what I have seen in Texas that I had to take a second look to reassure myself that I was indeed looking at a Sago Palm. As a young horticulturist I am ecstatic to have had the opportunity to witness this rare occurrence since this is something that is not common in Texas.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will appear if approved. Thank you.