Tag Archives: Cycas revoluta

A water meadow! Tikorangi Notes: December 17, 2015

IMG_6415A water meadow! I was delighted at the sight in our park this afternoon. We stopped regular mowing of our park two years ago when we first closed our garden to the public. We were keen to see how far we could push the meadow effect in our climate and also concerned at our heavy dependence on internal combustion engines to maintain the garden. Long grass and flowers are far more ecologically friendly than mown grass.

IMG_6248Mark took note of my request that we mow double width paths through the grass this year. A single mower width looked a bit mean to my eyes. I commented to him earlier this week that my only worry was the abundance of buttercup that we now have. He wryly pointed out that it has always been that way. His childhood memories are of the yellow buttercups and dandelions and white daisies throughout the park. We have just returned to that, though not to grazing with sheep.

IMG_6420IMG_6421The higo irises are delightful. They started flowering in the second half of November and are still putting up plenty of blooms a good month later. Generally they flower in succession down the stem. The tall yellow spires are Wachendorfia thyrsifolia – a perennial plant for boggy conditions that needs quite a bit of space. And a willingness to accept that some plants are just not designed to be tidy, neat little things.

IMG_6411Before the thunder storm hit this afternoon, the sheer size of the Cycas revoluta finally got to me. It had become far too large for the rockery and was encroaching ever more onto both the narrow paths of the rockery and our adjacent outdoor dining area. I have removed A Lot but there is still a substantial plant remaining. The pups (some are more like overgrown wolfhounds than pups in size!) should grow but I will leave that up to Mark. As far as I understand, his technique is largely comprised of cutting off all the leaves and leaving the pups in some hospitable, shady area to push out fresh growth including roots – a very slow process.

046News from Australia that Mark’s new Daphne Perfume Princess has been shortlisted as one of only two contenders for the Plant of the Year. That is a meteoric rise and vote of confidence for a new release. We have to wait until February before the winner gets announced, but it is pretty encouraging. We are quite proud of this particular plant and have high hopes for it. It was delightful to see a native tui coming in every day to feed from it in winter. Daphnes are not renowned as sources of nectar for birds.

 

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Plant Collector: Cycas revoluta

Cycas revoluta - the so-called Japanese sago palm

Cycas revoluta – the so-called Japanese sago palm

It is often referred to as the Japanese sago palm. It is from Japan but it is definitely not a palm. Cycads are different to palms with only a distant botanical connection. Apparently you can extract edible starch to make sago but the plant is so very slow growing that I am sure there are more sustainable and easier food sources should you feel the need for sago in your diet.

There is nothing rare about C. revoluta. It is probably the most widely available variety on the international market, often sold as a house plant. After several decades – five or six – ours is quite large but these are slow growing plants which are generally undemanding. As a house plant, it will want good light levels. In the garden it is one of the hardier cycads, not turning a hair at several degrees of frost but it needs a well drained situation. Ours is in the rockery, too close to a narrow path so I am forever clipping back its very stiff leaves to allow passage. It develops oversized football-like offshoots which can be grown as new plants. Over time a trunk develops – up to 6m, apparently. As the trunk of ours is sitting around 20cm at this point, it won’t be in my time. It has been taller but rotted out some years ago, re-growing from the base.

Like all cycads, C.revoluta is dioecious. Both male and female plants are needed to set seed. This is probably a good thing given that the seeds are toxic and can kill dogs.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.