Finally, I caught up with a favourite of mine. Having encountered a missed opportunity in the early stages, I was ecstatic when I saw it at the entrance of a restaurant in Ijok, Kuala Selangor. Not only did they have it, they had 3 of the same! This plant was the biggest of all.
Although not a true palm, its growth habit is similar to the palm tree. It is also known as the Cardboard Palm, Cardboard Sago or Cardboard Cycad. This native of Mexico is prehistoric in nature (existing in times of the dinosaur) like the Sago Palm, hence it's no surprise that the trunk acts like a water reservoir enabling it to survive drought periods over millions of years.
The leaves are pinnately arranged, symmetrical, oblong in shape and some with mild serrated edges. It is slightly thick and leathery to the feel therefore, cardboard like. The leaf stems arise from the crown of the thick, fleshy trunk. Unfurled, the young leaves are light olive green in colour, maturing to a dark green.
water storage tank
Reproductive structures in the form of cones do appear on each plant and when ripen, break open to reveal many tightly packed red seeds. However, there were none on these 3 potted specimens at this time, probably due to bad timing.
With its exotic tropical appeal, this easy to grow species definitely looks great for indoor potted or outdoors for accent. Locally, many proud palm owners would also shower them with lots of TLC and tend to them 'bonsai' style (art of growing plants in small or shallow containers to expose tuberous trunk and their leafy fronds in miniature for aesthetics).