Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

July 26, 2014

A better cycad than a *sago palm* for the desert

The most common cycad that you see around the Phoenix, Arizona area is a cycas revoluta, commonly called a *sago palm*. And they do OK here, but not nearly as well as a dioon edule, which is the plant pictured here.

No, I've never seen a dioon edule at a Home Depot in Phoenix. In fact, they're rare even at specialty nurseries. And since I have had several dioons, like this one, here in my backyard in Glendale, Arizona, survive and thrive even after the *sago palms* have gone, I am genuinely puzzled as to why I don't see more.

This is a Dioon edule. I've never really heard much of any other name, so there really is no *common name* for them. When I first started planting them, and getting involved with the Arizona Palm and Cycad Association, I have to admit that it was kind'a strange to be speaking so much Latin. But then I remembered that I could say Tyrannosaurus Rex when I five, and then it didn't seem so difficult. And just like the characters in Jurassic Park who said *T-Rex*, I usually find people refer to a Dioon edule as a D. edule.

This is not only a beautiful, fern-like plant, but it does fine in the hot sun of Phoenix summers. This particular plant has been here for about fifteen years, and is doing fine. I bought it a few years after I bought this house, when I was just learning about cycads, and it has survived where common *sago palms* have long since vanished.

If you're familiar with cycads, such as sago palms, you know that they grow only once a year in what is called a *flush*. That's what you're seeing there with the leaves that are still immature, and a little bronzy. When they finishing flushing, in a couple of weeks, they will harden off to a blue-green. And if you look real closely at the front of the plant, you will see the most unusual thing about cycads, the cone. Yes, cycads cone like pine trees. They aren't related to palms, or ferns, they're related to Christmas trees. Really! Go google cycads if you don't believe me!

It may be over 100 degrees today, but this plant is doing fine.
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