Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

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!

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

Non-native Senna corymbosa
September 28, 2008 - I have a large Texas Senna tree - at least 7'x8'. It is covered in beautiful yellow blooms; however, it will need to be pruned in the winter. Please let me know how much to prune it and when is th...
view the full question and answer

poor blooming on (non-native) plumbago
June 14, 2011 - I recently purchased several blue Plumbago plants that were covered in blooms. We planted them in our front beds that receive about 5 hours of morning sun then afternoon shade. I have watered them eve...
view the full question and answer

Containing Japanese Wisteria Roots
November 22, 2015 - I have some Japanese wisteria plants that I would like to plant inside root barriers but I cannot find any info on how deep the roots go. Do you know if a 2 ft deep root barrier for trees can contain ...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock for non-native Plumbago auriculata
May 19, 2008 - I planted some full plumbago plants that were in containers, in a partially shaded area, they had beautiful flowers when I purchased them, but have since lost them all and the plant is looking very wi...
view the full question and answer

Powdery growth in hydrangea in Philadelphia
June 20, 2010 - My hydrangea plants have a weird growth on their leaves that looks like white rice. It looks like it would be powdery if brushed, but I don't want to touch it for fear that it some type of mold. Any...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.