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Cycas taitungensis is often confused with:
Zamia integrifolia Zamia integrifolia
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Ficus pumila Ficus pumila vines and fruit
Zamia integrifolia Zamia integrifolia
Cycas revoluta Cycas revoluta

Cycas taitungensis

Phonetic Spelling
SY-kas tay-tung-EN-sis
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Emperor Sago is a member of an ancient family known as Cycadaceae that dates back more than 200 million years ago. It is a tropical to a subtropical broadleaf evergreen that is related to conifers. It is a rare plant and was placed on the endangered species list in 2010. Emperor Sago is closely related to the Sago Palm, but it does not have the rolled-back leaflet margins that are found on the Sago Palm. Emperor Sago is slightly more cold-hardy and can have a leaf spread of 10 feet wide. Although slow-growing and long-living, Emperor Sago is the fastest growing in the cycad family under optimal conditions. Both of these plants are dioecious which means there must be a female and male plant to reproduce. They reproduce by using exposed seeds (gymnosperms), much like pines and fir trees.

The plant is native to Taiwan and can be found mixed in forests on rocky and steep slopes at an elevation of 1000 to 3200 feet. Their number has declined due to deforestation, poaching of plants, and attack from a pest known as the Cycad aulacaspis scale. Emperor Sago was once misidentified as a species known as Cycas taiwaniana, which is native to China and possibly Vietnam.

The genus name, Cycas, is derived from the Greek word, "kykas." This word is thought to be a transcription error for the word, "koikas," meaning Palm tree. Although Emperor Sago has a palm-like appearance, it does not flower and is cone-bearing, like a conifer.

Emperor Sago prefers full sun to partial shade. The leaves tend to bleach out when in full sun; therefore, protection from the afternoon sun is recommended. They are intolerant to alkaline soils. They require good drainage, but once they are established they may tolerate dry spells. The plant is cold tolerant and can survive temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintenance of Emperor Sago is minimal and includes removing suckers or offshoots and removing spent fronds. They are propagated by seeds or offshoots. By using the offshoots, you will know the sex of the plant immediately. 

The trunk of Emperor Sago is sometimes branched and can have a width of 18 inches. The stem color is reddish-brown. The crown is rounded and the leaves may spread out up to 10 feet. They can be 50 or more dark green leaves that are palm-like and measure 40 to 70 inches long and 8 to 12 inches wide. Each leaf is divided into 130-200 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are leathery, and the margins are flat. On the male Emperor Sago, pineapple-shaped cones are produced. On the female, the cones are shaped like a flat ring and form a thickly packed seedhead. The seeds are orange to red in color. Pollination occurs from April to June with the assistance of insects or the wind. The seeds mature from September to October.

Emperor Sago may be cultivated in warm coastal areas. It may also be used as a houseplant, interiorscape, or bonsai. 

Caution: All parts of Emperor Palm are toxic to humans and pets if ingested. The plant contains a toxic known as cycasin, and the seeds contain the highest levels. Cycasin can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver failure, and cirrhosis if ingested. Pets may exhibit symptoms of nosebleeds, bruising, and blood in stools after ingestion. Ingestion of any portion of this plant may cause permanent internal damage or death.

Disease, Pest, and Other Problems:

Scale insects, especially cycad aulacaspis scale, can cause serious damage to Emperor Sago.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#drought tolerant#cones#salt tolerant#non-flowering#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for children#problem for horses#coastal plant#poisonous if ingested#alkaline soil intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#drought tolerant#cones#salt tolerant#non-flowering#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for children#problem for horses#coastal plant#poisonous if ingested#alkaline soil intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cycas
    Species:
    taitungensis
    Family:
    Cycadaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Taiwan
    Distribution:
    United States: AL, CA, FL, GA, NC, OK, SC, TX, and WA
    Wildlife Value:
    Pollinated by insects.
    Play Value:
    Easy to Grow
    Edibility:
    The pith contains edible starch that can be processed to make sago. The starch has to be carefully washed to remove the toxins that are in the pith.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The male plant produces golden pineapple-shaped cones that can measure 18-21 inches long and 3 to 5 inches wide. The female plant produces a golden rounded cone about 5 inches in diameter with a thickly packed seedhead. Pollination occurs from April to June. The seeds are orange to red in color and mature between September and October.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Fronds
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are dark green, glossy, and measure 40-70 inches long and 8-12 inches wide. There are 50 or more leaves and 130-200 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets measure 5 to 8 inches long and 0.5 inches in width. The leaves are leathery and sparsely pubescent with flat margins.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Black
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    The bark is black and scaly.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stem is reddish-brown in color.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Salt
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Children
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Ingestion of any part of this plant may cause permanent internal damage or death. Symptoms of poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, seizures, and liver failure. Pets are attracted to this plant. Pet symptoms of poisoning include nosebleeds, bruising, and blood in stools.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    All part of this plant contain the toxin cycasin, but the seeds have the highest concentration.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems