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 Trees Questions

Fragrant tree found in Savannah
May 12, 2009 - I was in Savannah last weekend and as we were walking through one of the side streets we were hit with the fragrance of Lilac. I grew up around Lilac bushes but never expected a full in bloom single ...
view the full question and answer

Using cedar chips as mulch in Wimberley, TX
August 19, 2010 - In TX Hlll Country there is an abundance of wood chips, usually "cedar", which I have used as plant mulch. Since wood chips extract nitrogen to decay, do you consider chips a poor choice as plant m...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Texas Mountain Laurel in Austin
May 02, 2010 - I have an adult (over 25 years?, 20 feet tall?) Mountain Laurel next to my house in Austin. The winter of 2009/10 it lost most of its leaves. It did bloom and leaf out this Spring--not vigorous espec...
view the full question and answer

Thorny plant for fenceline security
December 23, 2009 - What kind of thorny plant or vine would you suggest to place along a fence for security purposes
view the full question and answer

Removal of invasive non-native Chinese wisteria
September 10, 2007 - I am going to be removing my ubiquitous chinese wisteria very soon (the method I'm going to use is undetermined). If I decide to use Round-up on the cut-stem (which may take more than one application...
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