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

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

Information on various plants from Alamo TX
November 15, 2009 - Have you heard of the following plants: Butterfly Iris,Compact Nanpina, Red Dwarf Turks? I would like to know some details on the above plant: size, flowers?, drought tolerant, where to plant Thanki...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native King Sago Palm
April 13, 2009 - My king sago palm has not branched out in over a year. I think it needs to be fertilized. What can I do?
view the full question and answer

Removing a hackberry stump from a non-native fig tree
April 02, 2008 - I have a fig tree that is at least 50 years old. A hackberry tree is growing up through the fig. I have cut it back several times (it is probably 3 inches in diameter at ground level), but have been...
view the full question and answer

Disappearing oranges from Satsuma orange in Austin
June 25, 2008 - I had many tiny future oranges on my Satsuma Orange Tree until a few days ago. Suddenly, all were gone except one. They weren't on the ground and the tree itself seems incredibly healthy. It is gr...
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