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Useful Tropical Plants

Cycas rumphii

Miq.

Cycadaceae


There has been considerable confusion in the past between this species and Cycas circinalis L. A recent treatment ('The Genus Cycas (Cycadaceae) in Indonesia' Lindstrom A.J. Et al, Telopea 12(3) 385 - 418 2009[
718
Title
The genus Cycas (Cycadaceae) in Indonesia.
Publication
 
Author
Lindstrom A.J.; Hill K.D.; Stanberg L.C.
Website
http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/101441/Tel123385Lin.pdf
Publisher
Telopea
Year
2009
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Cycas in Indonesia, sorting out the correct names for the various species.
]) has proposed that Cycas circinalis is restricted to southwest India, whilst Cycas rumphii is a found in Indonesia and New Guinea. This treatment seems to have been accepted. Much of the old literature on the uses of these species is in the name of Cycas circinalis, and it can be impossible to tell which species is actually being referred to if the plants range is not given. However, it is quite likely that the two species have virtually identical uses[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Cycas celebica Miq.

Cycas corsoniana G.Don

Cycas speciosa D.Don

Zamia corsoniana G.Don

Common Name: Sago Palm

Cycas rumphii
Plant with a small crop of fruit at Botanical garden Berlin-Dahlem, Germany
Photograph by: Osmodi
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0
Cycas rumphii Cycas rumphii Cycas rumphii Cycas rumphii Cycas rumphii Cycas rumphii

General Information

Queen sago is a medium sized suckering, evergreen cycad, usually growing up to 5 metres tall but exceptionally to 10 metres. A rather palm-like appearance, the plant produces a rosette of leaves 150 - 250cm long on top of the usually unbranched stem[
990
Title
The Cycad Pages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/PlantNet/cycad/wlist.html
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to the various species of Cycad, with a comprehensive description of all the known species (as of 2012). At present (2015), the site is still running but is no longer being updated
].
The pith in the stem is often harvested from the wild and used as a food source in its native range, though recent research has shown that this is a potentially dangerous practice since the pith can cause chronic nervous disorders if it is not treated properly. Overall its use is not to be recommended, especially since it is becoming rare in the wild[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. The plant is also grown as an ornamental.
Occurs over a wide range in coastal areas, but this species has declined due to a habitat loss of 20% in the last 50 years. The plant is classified as 'Near Threatened' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

The plants contain alkaloids of carcinogens and also an amino-acid that causes chronic nervous disorders[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Regular consumption of the plant leads to severe health problems and death. This toxic principle can be removed if the food is properly prepared but consumption of the plant still cannot be recommended because its use often means the death of the plant and it is becoming rare in the wild.

Botanical References

58
Title
Flora of Japan. (English translation)
Publication
 
Author
Ohwi. G.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution
Year
1965
ISBN
-
Description
The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
990
Title
The Cycad Pages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/PlantNet/cycad/wlist.html
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to the various species of Cycad, with a comprehensive description of all the known species (as of 2012). At present (2015), the site is still running but is no longer being updated

Range

Southeast Asia - Indonesia, New Guinea.

Habitat

Coastal and near coastal communities in littoral forest and rainforest. Often on stabilized dunes composed of coral sands and coral limestone[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusNear Threatened
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height3.50 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsInsects, wind
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Succeeds in the hot tropics and subtropics[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
]. Tolerant of light frost[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
].
Prefers a sunny position, but also succeeds in light shade[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
,
302
Title
Tropical Ornamentals; A Guide
Publication
 
Author
Whistler. W. Arthur.
Publisher
Timber Press Inc. Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-448-2
Description
An excellent little guide to some of the more commonly cultivated ornamental plants of the Tropics, often giving some information on the plants other uses.
]. Requires a strong loam with sharp sand and good drainage[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Succeeds in dry soils. Succeeds in poor soils[
302
Title
Tropical Ornamentals; A Guide
Publication
 
Author
Whistler. W. Arthur.
Publisher
Timber Press Inc. Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-448-2
Description
An excellent little guide to some of the more commonly cultivated ornamental plants of the Tropics, often giving some information on the plants other uses.
].
The seeds float and can be transported long distances in the sea, thus accounting for the very large distribution of this species[
314
Title
Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.pacsoa.org.au/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Contains at least a little information on the majority of palm and cycad species, plus a wealth of photographs. A first class website.
].
Plants are slow-growing[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
].
The plants produce special upward growing roots where nitrogen is produced in symbiosis with algae[
175
Title
Focus on Plants. Volume 5. (formerly 'Growing from seed')
Publication
 
Author
Bird. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1991
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Corydalis spp.
].
Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Edible Uses

The pith is rich in carbohydrate and a sago can be made from it[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
]. This use will kill the plant[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

The raw seed is poisonous, but after being cut into thin slices, dried, then steeped in water for a few minutes and dried again, it becomes edible[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
63
Title
Nuts.
Publication
 
Author
Howes. F. N.
Publisher
Faber
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
Rather old but still a masterpiece. Has sections on tropical and temperate plants with edible nuts plus a section on nut plants in Britain. Very readable.
,
146
Title
A Manual of Indian Timbers.
Publication
 
Author
Gamble. J. S.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1972
ISBN
-
Description
First written in the 19th century, but still a classic, giving a lot of information on the uses and habitats of Indian trees. Not for the casual reader.
,
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
]. It can be used as a sago[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
]. Using the seed for food cannot be recommended, however. The seeds are around 45mm long, 30mm wide[
990
Title
The Cycad Pages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/PlantNet/cycad/wlist.html
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to the various species of Cycad, with a comprehensive description of all the known species (as of 2012). At present (2015), the site is still running but is no longer being updated
]. See the notes above on toxicity.

The very young leaves are edible[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
].

The plant yields a gum[
64
Title
Vegetable Gums and Resins.
Publication
 
Author
Howes. F. N.
Publisher
Faber
Year
 
ISBN
81-88818-17-8
Description
A very good book dealing with the subject in a readable way.
,
146
Title
A Manual of Indian Timbers.
Publication
 
Author
Gamble. J. S.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1972
ISBN
-
Description
First written in the 19th century, but still a classic, giving a lot of information on the uses and habitats of Indian trees. Not for the casual reader.
,
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
]. No further details are given.

Medicinal

The pollen is narcotic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

The bark and the seeds are ground to a paste with oil and used as a poultice on sores and swellings[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

The juice of tender leaves is useful in the treatment of flatulence and vomiting[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

The bark sap is used as a glue[
339
Title
Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability
Publication
 
Author
W.C. Clarke and R.R. Thaman (Editors)
Website
http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80824e/80824E00.htm#Contents
Publisher
United Nations University Press, Tokyo
Year
1993
ISBN
92-808-0824-9
Description
The guide includes information on 100 species of plants for Agroforestry. It is also available on the web at the address given above.
].

The fruits are strung together to make children's toys or rattles[
339
Title
Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability
Publication
 
Author
W.C. Clarke and R.R. Thaman (Editors)
Website
http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80824e/80824E00.htm#Contents
Publisher
United Nations University Press, Tokyo
Year
1993
ISBN
92-808-0824-9
Description
The guide includes information on 100 species of plants for Agroforestry. It is also available on the web at the address given above.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown in containers as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. The seed should be sown 2cm deep in individual pots, which are then sealed in plastic bags to keep them moist until germination takes place. Germinates in 1 - 3 months at 25°c[
164
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 4.
Publication
 
Author
Bird. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1990
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Yuccas, one on Sagebrush (Artemesia spp) and another on Chaerophyllum bulbosum.
].
Division of suckers in the spring[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
].

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