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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.

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

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - March 27, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Yellowing of fronds on Sago Palm
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Our Sago Palm now has all yellow fronds from the Winter frosts. Should they be cut off? Will the plant grow new fronds from the bottom to replace the ugly looking ones that are there? And why do I see other Sago Palms in the neighborhood that still look perfect?

ANSWER:

The Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) is not a true palm, but a primitive gymnosperm in the family Cycadaceae (commonly called Cycads). The Cycads were a major part of the vegetation on earth during the Mesozoic Era over 150 million years ago. Cycas revoluta is native to Japan, but is used extensively as a landscape plant in the southern, subtropical/temperate U.S. It is probably the most propagated cycad in the world.

There are several possibilities for the yellow fronds, but I will only mention two. Your plant may well have experienced frost damage although most cycads are fairly cold hardy. The other possibility is that the plant is preparing to throw a new set of fronds, and the older fronds are providing nutrients to the new set, thus the yellow color. The new fronds will emerge from the center of the top of the plant. Hold off on removing the older fronds until the new fronds are growing well.

The ability of plants to withstand cold stress can depend on several factors including nutrients and water in the soil, health of the plant, and the temperature the plant experiences.

Click on Cycad to learn more about the care and enjoyment of your Sago Palm

 

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