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
2 ratings

Wednesday - July 03, 2013

From: Keystone Heights, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Trees
Title: Non-native Sago palm roots damaging house foundation from Keystone Heights FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Will sago palms roots hurt a house's foundation if too close?

ANSWER:

From Wikipedia: "Cycas revoluta (king sago, sago cycad, Japanese sago palm), is a species of gymnosperm in the family Cycadaceae, native to southern Japan. Cycads are not closely related to the true palms (Arecaceae)."

This puts this plant out of our area of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown; in your case, Clay County in northeastern Florida. While it is not native to North America, we know that a great many Sago Palms are grown, particularly in Florida, so we are going to find some information on the plant.

From Dave's Garden Sago 'Palm" care and cultivation. You will note the quotation marks around the word 'palm.' This plant is actually a cycad. (From the University of California at Berkeley Museum of Paleontology). Here is a video on cycads; the best we can tell is that they do not have a large spreading root. In fact, they are often grown in pots, which we would assume just means they do not have extending roots that could damage foundations. It would probably still be well to not plant it too close to a building because of the damage that could be done to the plant itself if wind pushed it against a wall. More information and pictures.

There are 9 members of the Arecaceae (true palm) family native to North America and 7 of those are native to Florida: Acoelorraphe wrightii (Everglades palm), Rhapidophyllum hystrix (Needle palm), Roystonea elata (Florida royal palm), Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto), Sabal palmetto (Cabbage palmetto) and Serenoa repens (Saw palmetto).

 

From the Image Gallery


Needle palm
Rhapidophyllum hystrix

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Cabbage palmetto
Sabal palmetto

More Non-Natives Questions

Leaf loss on non-native Elaeocarpus decipiens
July 01, 2008 - Hello, I had my landscaper plant Japanese Blueberry bushes over the winter along my fence to act as a privacy screen. Their long, narrow and full evergreen characteristics are ideal for creating priv...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of contaminants leaching from asphalt driveway to adjacent vegetable garden in Tucson
April 13, 2011 - We have planted a vegetable garden next to a driveway. The driveway has recently (within the last 2 years) been covered with asphalt. My concern is that the oil may leach into my vegetables. Is thi...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza turning brown in McGregor TX
May 05, 2010 - Why are my Esperanza turning brown?
view the full question and answer

Did Mexican fire bush (Hamelia patens) survive winter cold?
May 05, 2010 - I have a Mexican fire bush that I planted last spring and it bloomed beautifully last summer. It browned and we cut it back to the ground. Right now it's showing no signs of life and I'm afraid it m...
view the full question and answer

Small white bugs on indoor hibiscus in Ohio
November 25, 2008 - My Hibiscus has small white bugs on the leaves with small white residue. Looks like very small pieces of white rice. This white rice is also covering the UNOPENED buds and making them fall off. It ...
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