Cycas revoluta (Japanese sago palm): Care and benefits


Cycas revoluta also called Japanese sago palm is a primitive gymnosperm and is currently facing extinction. Since the stem produces a starch-like substance called sago, also called sago palm. Cycads are xerophytic as they require scanty water even more drought tolerant (1).

The plant Cycas revoluta looks like a palm tree hence due to their false appearance they are sometimes mistakenly identified as palm but they are gymnosperms and are not related to the palm family.

Generally, Cycas is also designated as Living Fossil (2). The plant takes several years to grow, sexual reproduction takes place after 10 years. This genus is native to eastern and southeastern Asia and is cultivated in many tropical and subtropical areas for ornamental purposes (1).

Due to its palm-like appearance and small size, this plant is often offered as a bonsai.

Lifecycle of Cycas revoluta

  • Its vegetative phase lasts 7–15 years during which starch is stored in the trunk.
  • At maturity, an enormous branched inflorescence develops at the top of the trunk. Starch reserves are at their maximum just before flowering and fruiting deplete these reserves. Sago’s palm dies after mature fruit fall from the tree (3).

Botanical description

Botanical description of sago palm

Height:  3 to 10 feet

Spread: 4 to 8 feet

Plant habit: palm

Plant density: moderate

Growth rate: slow

Leaf: spirally arranged and evenly pinnate compound leaf with a terminal spine (4).

How to take care of Cycas revoluta

Cycas revoluta care


As the plant is xerophytic in nature they prefer bright and strong light. Good sunny light helps the plants to encourage healthy root growth and shiny leaves.


Grows well in sandy well-drained soil. Water retention is not healthy for the roots.


Fertilize the plant once a year. All-purpose fertilizer is well enough. Fertilize the plant during spring or late summer.


Too much water is not good for the plant. Make sure that the soil dries completely before watering the plant. As the plant is xerophytic in nature hence high humidity and misting are not necessary.


The propagation of this plant is via seeds or offshoots. the offshoots are removed from the base and are potted in different pots.

Pests and diseases

This plant is a relatively hardy plant and hence is free from almost all types of pests and diseases.

Pets: This palm is poisonous to pets hence avoid this plant if you are having a cat or dog in your house.

Medicinal benefits of Cycas revoluta

Recent studies show that the plant is antimicrobial and antioxidant in nature. in nature. The extracts of leaves of the plant showed potent antimicrobial activity against E.coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Saccharomyces cerevisae.

The extracts showed an almost similar pattern of antioxidant activity. Hydro-alcoholic extracts showed significant antioxidant activity in comparison to chloroform extracts. The results of the study thus further emphasized the isolation and characterization of novel molecules present in leaves responsible for pharmacological activities (5).

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