Common Name: King sago palm, sago palm, Japanese sago palm
Seeds collection period: Sep.-Nov.
Seeds longevity: 1 year
This very symmetrical plant supports a crown of shiny, dark green leaves on a thick shaggy trunk that is typically about 20 cm in diameter, sometimes wider.
The trunk is very low to subterranean in young plants, but lengthens above ground with age. It can grow into very old specimens with 6–7 m of trunk; however, the plant is very slow-growing and requires about 50–100 years to achieve this height.
Trunks can branch multiple times, thus producing multiple heads of leaves.
The pith contains edible starch, and is used for making sago. Before use, the starch must be carefully washed to leach out toxins contained in the pith.
Extracting edible starch from the sago cycad requires special care due to the poisonous nature of cycads.
Cycad sago is used for many of the same purposes as palm sago.
Sago is extracted from the sago cycad by cutting the pith from the stem, root and seeds of the cycads, grinding the pith to a coarse flour and then washing it carefully and repeatedly to leach out the natural toxins. The starchy residue is then dried and cooked, producing a starch similar to palm sago/sabudana.
The cycad seed contains cycasin toxin and should not be eaten as it is possible for cycasin toxin to survive the most vigorous of repeated washings.