I was walking past a local hotel last week and came upon a cluster of sago palms, all in the throes of reproduction.  Right there in plain site!   Promiscuous plants, these sagos.  Here is a male and a female planted side by side.   I’m going to let you guess which is which.

Sago Palms typically aren’t mature enough to bloom and reproduce until they are 15 – 20 years old.  In fact, until your sago blooms, you won’t know if you have a male or a female plant.  It takes two to tango, so it’s a bit tricky if you are buying immature plants with the intent to propagate more in the future.

I find the female sagos are fascinating for their artistic styled, and fuzzy, leaves.   I was on a historic homes tour one year, and realized that during the Arts & Crafts era artists used the shape of these leaves in a lot of their designs, particularly wallpaper and fabric.  It’s only my observation, and may be incorrect, but it seemed obvious to me.  Sago palms were a novelty plant, but popular, back in that era.

This is a close-up of the female palm’s megasporophyll, which is more simply put, modified leaves.  They are soft and fuzzy.

The male sago palm really makes a statement, doesn’t it?  This seed cone is about two feet tall.

Here is a close-up of a male seed cone.  It has a little fuzz, but it’s not soft like the females’ leaves.

 

This male sago palm has two seed cones.  A bit unusual, but his father must be very proud.  🙂

Here are a few fact sheets I gathered and found useful:
Growing Sagos from Seed
Identifying Flowering Sago Palms

A side note:  Sago palm seeds are very poisonous to dogs.  If you have a sago palm accessible to your dog, please beware…..

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