This is a Sago Palm which is located in my front yard. I have two of them which flank both sides of the front entry walk. The Sago Palm is a widely used landscaping plant in tropical regions. Although the name implies that it is a palm tree, it is not. The Sago Palm is actually a Cycad which is a very old group of plants which are closer to conifers than palms. Cycads are actually older than dinosaurs and go back 200 million years. If you are lucky enough to have a male and female Sago Palm, life gets interesting when the plants sexually mature. This is the first year that my Sago Palms got frisky right there in my front yard. In the Spring, the male plant grows a long, thick structure about the size of a small baseball bat. Don't believe me? Google it. After the two plants are finished with their little pollination trysts, the female plant produces a basketball size structure which is full of seeds. Does all of this sound familiar?
This is a a picture of the basketball size seed pod which is beginning to open up. The seed pod stays tightly closed for weeks, but then begins to slowly open up a bit at a time. I call it dilating. I am sure that is not the scientific term.
Here is a close up of the avocado pit sized seeds which will drop to the ground to produce little baby Sago Palms. Here is where the trouble begins. As the seeds drop to the ground, they are scattered about by squirrels and birds. Dogs, cats and horses consider the Sago Palm seeds a delightful snack. Sago Palm seeds contain a potent toxin called Cycasin and the toxin from one seed can kill your pet within a matter of hours. There is no antidote for Cycasin. The toxin usually attacks the liver, brain and gastrointestinal tract and is responsible for the deaths of many pets, particularly dogs, every year.
What can be done to keep your pets safe from this POISON? I love my Sago Palms so instead of removing the plants, I am trying to harvest the seeds to prevent any pets from being accidentally poisoned.
This has been my public service announcement for my fellow animal lovers. For more photos of POISON, go HERE. In gratitude to the creators of this photography event, I am shipping some Sago Palm seeds to MikeWJ and Ziva.