June 15, 2014
Giant pine cone on a sago palm in Southern California
Without going into too much botanical stuff (which I really don't understand), sago palms are more closely related to pine trees than to palm trees. And these ancient types of plants don't flower, they cone.
By the way, sago palms are dioecious, that is, they have two genders, just like people, male and female. And that means that you can recognize the gender of a sago by looking at its cone. This one is a male. Female cones on sago palms are much wider and flatter. And you will only see cones on very large specimens, as it takes at least a decade, if not two, for them to mature.
Also note that cones can have poisonous stuff in them, so wear gloves when you go out there and cut it off. Many cycad collectors leave the cones on, as a way of showing off, but really they aren't doing anything for the plant, and will start to look ratty after a while, so feel free to remove them at your convenience.
Posted by Brad Hall