This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
Linn. (C. Thoudrsii, R. Br.). Fern Palm. A palm-like tree with cylindrical trunk and a crown of glossy, fern-like, stiff but gracefully curved pinnate leaves: trunk clothed with the compacted woody bases of petioles, usually columnar and simple, but often branching when the terminal bud has been cut off, or in clusters of several springing from the base of an old trunk which has been cut down; in addition to the true leaves, modified leaves in the form of simple short subulate woolly prophylla; true leaves 5-8 ft. long, long-petioled, the petiole bearing short deflexed spines near the base; pinnae alternate, 10-12 in. long and quite narrow, linear-lanceolate, acuminate, subfalcate, the midrib stout and prominent beneath, bright green above, paler beneath: male infloresence in the form of an erect woolly cone composed of scales bearing globose pollen-sacs on the under surface and tapering at the apex into a long spine; female infloresence in the center of the crown of leaves, consisting of a tuft of spreading buff-colored, woolly, pinnately-notched leaves (carpophylls) about 6-12 in. long, spinous toothed along the margin, and bearing in the notches the naked ovules; ovules 3-5 pairs, borne above the middle: fruit about the size of a walnut, with a thin fleshy covering, and a fleshy starchy endosperm resembling that of a horse-chestnut. S. India, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, Philippines, Madagascar, E. tropical Africa, Guam. - In Fla. the leaves of this species are often destroyed by sharp frosts, but the trunk is rarely injured and will soon send forth new leaves when the weather becomes warm again.
Nehrling recommends that fine specimens be protected by a tent or by a house of lattice-work covered with canvas, and with the sides also inclosed if necessary. In this house a large kerosene lamp will be sufficient to keep the plant from freezing. In Tampa, Fla., this species appears to flourish, some of the specimens having trunks 6-8 ft. high. It grows best in rich moist soil and in partial shade. On the island of Guam, the nuts of this species form a food staple for the natives in times of famine following hurricanes. These are so poisonous that the water in which the kernels are soaked is fatal to animals. After having been soaked for some time and the water repeatedly changed, the kernels become harmless, and are ground up into meal and dried for future use. They are usually prepared in the form of cakes, which are said to be nutritious although rather tasteless.
dd. Leaves less than 5 ft. long; -pinnae 8-8 in. long.
R. Br. Nut Palm of Australia. Trunk attaining height of 8-10 ft. or sometimes twice this height, rarely branched at the top: leaves 2-4 ft. long or more, the pinnae very numerous, straight or falcate, obtuse or pungent-pointed, flat or slightly concave above when young, promi-nently keeled beneath, the margins often slightly decurrent on the rachis, glabrous or slightly pubescent when young, the longer ones varying from 3-8 in., the lower ones shorter and more contracted at the base, the lowest ones prickle-like, sometimes continuing to base of petiole: cones variable in size, but apparently smaller than in C. circinalis, which this species otherwise resembles; seeds 1-1 1/2 in. long, glabrous. Austral, along the northern coasts; also Queensland.
cc. Scales of male infloresence shortly acuminate.
Rumphii, Miq. Closely related to the preceding, but growing taller in its natural habitat, sometimes reaching a height of 20 ft. or more: leaves shorter and with fewer leaflets: scales of male cone thickened and obliquely truncate at the tip, with a short upcurved sometimes caducous point; carpophylls a foot long, narrower than in C. circinalis, with an entire often elongate subulate tip; seeds oval or subglobose, 2-2 3/4 in. long by 1 1/2-1 3/4in- diam. Moist wooded regions of Burma, Ceylon (possibly introduced), Andaman Isls., Nicobar, Malaya, New Guinea, and N. Austral. - This species when growing in cult, is usually much lower, and has a full large crown of leaves, with lanceolate pinnae thinner and paler than those of C. circinalis. Much grown in tropical gardens of E. Indies; male plants rare.
bb. Modified fruit - bearing leaves pectinate along the margins.
c. Trunk much swollen at the base: blade of carpophyll ovate-rhomboid.
Miq. A small palm-like tree: stems 2-6 ft., much swollen at the base: leaves 2-4 ft., stiff spreading; pinnse 3-8 in. long, linear mucronate-acuminate; blade of carpophyll tawny-woolly when young, at length glabrescent above, ovate-rhomboid, long-acuminate, margin deeply pectinate lacerate: scales of male infloresence about 3/4in. long, with a slender terminal point of the same length: seeds 1 1/2 in. long, obovoid-oblong. Burma, Siam, Cochin China. - Apparently hardy in Fla. It is rare, occurring in only a few gardens. It is a beautiful species, easily recognizable by its trunk which is swollen very much like that of Dasylirion, and according to Nehrling grows much faster than the species more commonly cultivated It is certainly deserving of more general cultivation.
cc. Trunk not swollen at the base: blade of carpophyll broadly orbicular.
Griff. Fig. 1180. A glabrous evergreen palm-like tree, to 10 ft. high in its native habitat but usually much shorter in cultivation: leaves ascending, recurved, 5-7 ft. long; pinnse 7-10 in. long, narrowly linear tapering into a minute apical spine, subfalcate; blade of carpophyll covered with dense tawny wool throughout, 6 in. long, broadly orbicular, long-acuminate, its margin deeply subulate-pectinate, stalk about equal in length to the blade with 2 or 3 pairs of ovules above the middle; spiny marginal teeth 3/4in. long; terminal point 1 1/2 in. long, tapering from a flat base, with 1 or 2 spinous teeth: seeds about 1 1/2 in. long, ovoid: male cone 18 in. long, 6 in. diam., cylindric-ovoid; anther-bearing scales 1 1/2 in. long, 1 in. diam., deltoid-clavate, the apex much thickened, abruptly acuminate, terminal point 1 1/2 in. long,-spine-like, ascending. India, Nepaul, East Bengal, 2,000 ft. elevation, Assam, Martaban, in pine forests. G.F. 4:114 (adapted in Fig. 1180).
Fig. 1180. Cycas pectinata.
aa. Margins of pinnae revolute. b. Blade of carpophyll pectinate.
Thunb. Sago Palm. Figs. 1181, 1182. A graceful palm-like tree or shrub, becoming 6-10 ft. high, with the trunk simple or branching: leaves long and recurved (2-7 ft.); pinnae numerous, subopposite, curved downward, narrow, stiff, acute, terminating in a spine-like tip, dark shining green, the margin revolute; carpophylls with the blade broadly ovate, densely clothed with brownish felt-like wool, pectinate; ovules 2 or 3 pairs borne near the base: fruit ovate, compressed, red, about 1 1/2in- long. S. Japan. -This is the most common cycas in conservatories. It is of Javanese origin and is much hardier than the species mentioned above. In Fla. it is usually found in all of the better parks and gardens, where it is suitable-as a center about which to arrange other ornamental shrubs. According to Nehrling, this species is of slow-growth. In the male plants there are usually several heads. The male infi. is usually 18-20 in. long and cylindrical in form. The female infloresence is in the form of a semi-globose head, yielding 100-200 large bright red nut-like seeds, which ripen about Christmas time. The new leaves appear all at one time, usually in May. They have a beautiful glaucous green color and at first stand erect. Young plants are easily grown from seeds.
Unfortunately this beautiful species is, in Fla., subject to blight for which no remedy has yet been found. It appears to thrive best in open situations; and in Cent. Fla., it grows with little care, flowering and fruiting abundantly. The nuts are eaten by the natives, and from the pith of the trunk a kind of sago is prepared for which the common name "sago palm" is given it. The leaves are much used in funeral decorations.
Fig. 1181. Cycas revoluta.
Fig. 1182. Leaf of Cycas revoluta.
bb. Blade of carpophylls dentate-lobate.
Beddomei, Dyer (C. revoliita, Bedd., not Thunb.). A low shrub with stems only a few in. high: leaves about 3 ft. long; pinnae about 1/8in. wide, strongly revo-lute; carpophylls 6-8 in. long, with the blade 3 in. long and 1 in. broad, ovate-lanceolate, tapering into a long-acuminate point, strongly dentate-lobate, bearing 2 pairs of ovules above the middle: seeds globose, 1 1/2 in. diam.; male cone about 1 ft. long and 3 in. diam., very short-peduncled; antheriferous scales long-acuminate, acumen in upper half of cone strongly deflexed, near the base of the cone ascending. - E. Madras, abundant on the hills.
Other cultivated eycads are C. neo-caledonica, Lind. "A very ornamental palm-like plant, of a different species from the eycads ordinarily grown," introduced into the U. S. by W. T. Swingle. Much like C. circinalis but with fronds narrower and pinnae closer. - C. Normanbyana, Muell., introduced into the U. S. from France by W. T. Swingle, a species with oblong-obovate leaves, having numerous linear pinna 6 in. long. Austral. - C. Riuminiana, Regel. stem rather stout: leaves bright green, erect, spreading in a vase-like crown, the pinnae fine-pointed. Philippines. I.H. 11:405. W. E. Safford