Cycas revoluta is a plant of the Cycadaceae family, native to Japan.
The appearance is reminiscent of the palm tree both for the stem, slightly branched, and for the arrangement of the leaves, large and pinnate placed in a spiral at the top of the stem, like a crown. The stem reaches a diameter of about 20 cm and has a very slow growth: a few centimeters long in young plants, in very old specimens (over 50 years) can reach 6-7 m in height.
The leaves, bright green and up to 1.5 meters long, are pinnate, slightly curved, shiny and pointed. The single leaves, rigid and thin, are 8-18 cm long; those closest to the stem are modified in the form of thorns.
The young leaves appear in spring at the apex of the stem in large groups; at the moment of emergence from the stem they are curled up and covered by thick hair; within a few days they spread out and quickly reach the appearance of mature leaves.
The marrow of the trunk is used for the preparation of the sago, a starch for food use. For the extraction of the sago plants are used that have not yet reached the flowering, cutting the trunks in a certain number of pieces, and then splitting them in the direction of the length, so as to be able to separate the internal fabric, from which we obtain the starch by washing. In the production areas, the sago is a product of considerable importance for food and is also exported. The Cycas revoluta, even in limited quantities, if swallowed by dogs or cats can cause respiratory and hepatic damages, and in the most serious cases death. Causes hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, coagulopathies, liver damage, renal failure.
Among all the cicadas the Cycas revoluta is one of the most used for ornamental purposes: every year in the world millions of specimens are sold.
The plant, discovered at the end of the eighteenth century, is native to southern Japan.
It was placed for the first time in Europe in 1793, at the Botanical Garden of Palermo.
It grows very well in sandy, well-drained soils, in areas with very hot summers (average temperatures of 30-35 ° C) but also tolerates climates with lower temperatures. Occasional exposure to temperatures below freezing can cause damage to the leaves.
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