Plant profile: Cycas revoluta

The ornamental species, which can take 100 years to mature, is easy to maintain.

Cycas revoluta OK.Julio Figueroa for The National
Powered by automated translation

Typically mistaken for a true palm, the Cycas revoluta is actually more of a living fossil. It’s a member of the cycadaceae family – a group of plants that dates back to the time of the dinosaurs – and is native to ­southern Japan. The Cycas is typically used as an ornamental plant and for the production of sago – a starch extract traditionally eaten by the people of New Guinea.

This slow-growing plant can take 50 to 100 years to reach its full height. Typically, a mature Cycas will have a six- or seven-­metre-high trunk, with leaves that are a deep, semi-glossy green.

Attractive and easy to maintain, the Cycas is widely cultivated outdoors in warm ­temperatures and subtropical regions. It grows best in sandy, well-drained soil, is fairly drought-tolerant and grows well in full sunlight.

Be warned, though: Cycas is extremely poisonous if ingested.