Female plants produce a round, felt mass in the center
of the leaf mass. Bright orange to yellow seeds mature
on the female plant during mid-summer to fall.
  Males plants form a yellow, cone-like structure
that grows 12-24 inches.

A. Congratulations! You are fortunate, as you have both a male and a female Sago Palm. What you are describing are the male and female flowers of the Sago Palm, which by the way, is not really a palm at all. What we have always been taught to call a Sago Palm is actually a Cycad. Cycads are a very old group of plants that are closer to conifers than to palms. They go back at least 200 million years, which is older than the dinosaurs.

The scientific name is Cycas revoluta, which in Latin identifies the plant as a cycad and describes the revolute nature of the leaflets.

Cycads are dioecious, having both male and females. When the sago plants have sexually matured, the female sagos begin to “flower” producing a basketball-sized structure. The male sago produces a long thick structure, or the male cone. At this point you have the opportunity to propagate more sago palms to plant elsewhere in your yard or share with your friends.

In order for the female plant to produce viable seed, it must be pollinated by a male sago palm. If you are lucky enough to have both a mature male and a female plant, this will not present a problem for you. The pollination can be achieved by the wind or insects, but you can get in the act and ensure pollination by dusting pollen from the male to the female flower yourself. You can tell when the female flower is ready to be pollinated as it will slowly open up. This usually happens in this area in the late spring to early summer. Be patient. Sago palms grow slowly and their seeds develop slowly as well.

If you decide to undertake propagating your sago palms I suggest that you do a little reading. Information is readily available at your local library or on the internet. The process is not difficult and the plants will do most of the work, but can be very rewarding.

Considering that sago palms are quite valuable, have a long history behind them and enhance your property with their stately presence, you should view those two plants in your yard with a new found respect and appreciation, especially if you are the proud grandparent to a whole new generation of sago palm.

This web site is maintained by Master Gardener Laura Bellmore, under the direction of William M. Johnson, Ph.D., County Extension Agent-Horticulture & Master Gardener Program Coordinator.

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