En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - November 28, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Replacement for non-native Sago palms in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have two pillars, one on each side of our front door. There is a sago palm in front of each pillar. It is a dramatic and beautiful look, but the palms, facing north and in shade, are growing so that their trunks are showing. I am looking for a plant to replace these which will provide a similar look. Thanks

ANSWER:

Cycas revoluta, Sago palm is native to southern Japan, and therefore falls out of our area of expertise. Please read this Dave's Garden forum, especially the negative comments, for more reasons why it should not be grown in our landscapes.  Your comment that the plants are growing trunks that show is not surprising. This page of images from Google of the Sago Palm shows many of them with trunks showing.

Your request for a plant to replace the Sago palm, with a similar look, may not be so easy. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. One possibility is Rhapidophyllum hystrix (Needle palm), which is not a true palm, and as you can see from this USDA Plant Profile, it grows natively in swampy areas of southeastern states. Another possibility would be a large fern, which would do well in the shady condition you describe, and some are evergreen. Some we would suggest are:

Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern) - 2 to 3 ft., deciduous

Dryopteris ludoviciana (Southern woodfern) - 3 to 6 ft., deciduous

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern) - 1 to 3 ft., deciduous

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) - evergreen, 2 to 3 ft

Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern) - semi-evergreen, to 5 ft. tall

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Rhapidophyllum hystrix


Athyrium filix-femina


Dryopteris ludoviciana


Osmunda cinnamomea


Polystichum acrostichoides


Thelypteris kunthii

 

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Growing conditions for non-native Thlaspi caerulescens
June 19, 2007 - I want to know what is the best condition for growing Thlaspi caerulescens and what is its life span. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming toad lily in Kentucky
April 20, 2008 - I have had a toad lily for three years and it has never bloomed. What do I need to do?
view the full question and answer

Brown rings on grass under live oaks in Austin
June 13, 2013 - There are brown rings in the grass at the dripline on several Live Oak trees in our neighborhood. What causes this? The trees appear healthy.
view the full question and answer

Non-native Jerusalem Sage from Comfort TX
May 31, 2012 - I live in Comfort, TX. I have 3 Jerusalem sage plants that bloom beautifully each year. However, just the past week one has started turning yellow and brown. The leaves look withered and ready to die....
view the full question and answer

Invasiveness of non-native Asian jasmine
June 18, 2007 - I have a lot of Asian Jasmine planted as groundcover in various beds. The last year or so it has become unruly and is now invading my St. Augustine, working its way into the lawn itself. Is there an...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center