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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

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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Tuesday - June 12, 2012

From: Bulverde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Non-native Sago Palm from Bulverde TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My husband's job has taken him out of state and he left me in charge of his 27 year old sago palms, (house plants, sort of bonsai). They waited until he left and then quite perversely sprouted 3 foot tall antennas. Is that normal or should I worry about it making pod-people? I can provide pictures if it would help. thank you for any help you can give me.

ANSWER:

Since, as explained below, we don't know diddley about Sago Palms, we're going to make a wild guess that is a bloom stalk sticking up, but you should still follow our research links.

We would like to cop out and say all sago palms are non-native to North America (which they are) and that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. However, we hate to leave you hanging with your responsibility, so we will try to find some clues for you. When we googled for "sago palm" we got 4 different species, each with that common name. We are going to list those, each with a link to an article and (hopefully) a picture so you can decide which it is. Then, using the scientific name you have chosen as being the right one, search on "care of (plant scientific name)". Somebody, somewhere, must have the information you are looking for.

Metroxylon sagu - referred to as true Sago Palm, native to Indonesia and New Guinea. Article from Virtual Palm Encyclopedia.

Cycas revoluta native to Southern Japan. Article from Arizona Master Gardeners

Cyclis circinalis - native to Western Ghat area in India

Cycas micronesica - native to Micronesia, seeds poisonous. Article from ARKive

Honestly, if your husband has had these plants for 27 years, he may be the world's greatest expert on them. We suggest you ask him.

 

 

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