If you are seeing a strange growth like this on any species of cycad, including the common "sago palm", you are seeing the plant that is mature enough to begin its reproductive cycle. And since it can take over twenty years for a cycad to cone, many people never see this at all. It's a sign of a robustly healthy plant, and it's kind'a cool to see.
Even mature plants, like this one, don't cone every year. This one has coned three times since I've had it, but it usually pushes out a flush of leaves instead. The really, really, mature ones can do both cone AND push out a flush of leaves. I guess this one is still too young for that.
|Male cones of Dioon edule cycad.|
After the cones start to open up, they will start breaking up and looking brown and ratty. They will break off easily, and should be disposed of. The pollen inside is toxic, but only if you eat it. Still, it's a good idea to wear gloves when handling a cone, and wash your hands.