Cycas rumphii
Common Name: cycad 
Type: Palm or Cycad
Family: Cycadaceae
Native Range: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 20.00 to 33.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-10 (possibly protected areas of Zone 8) where it is easily grown outdoors in sandy, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to shade. Perhaps, best in part shade. Appreciates a good mulch. Superior soil drainage is needed. Established plants tolerate some drought. Plants also tolerate temperatures that briefly dip into the twenties but some frost damage to the foliage will occur. Plants may not survive temperatures below 20 degrees F. Plants sucker at the base. Propagation is by suckers/offsets or seed. Very slow growth, but plants live a long time. Indoor plants should be planted in containers with a soil-based potting mix amended with sand and peat. Site plants in filtered sun for 4-6 hours per day (as through a window curtain on an east, west or southern window). Needs regular and consistent moisture with soil surface nearly drying between water applications. Containers may be taken outside in summer and returned indoors before fall frost.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Notwithstanding the common name of Queen sago or Queen sago palm, this cycad is botanically closer to conifers than to palms. It is primarily native to coastal rainforest areas of the Molucca Islands, New Guinea, Sulawesi, Borneo and Java. It is becoming threatened in its native habitat in large part because of habitat destruction. It is a small tree that typically grows to 20-33' tall, featuring an unbranched upright trunk of gray fissured bark topped by a crown of hard, glossy, palm-like, pinnate-compound, bright green leaves. Trunk is covered with base marks where old fronds were once attached. Trunk matures over time to 16" in diameter. Each frond grows to 8' long and features 150 to 200 hard, glossy, falcate leaflets. Each leaflet becomes spiny near its base. Plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Showy, ellipsoid male cone (to 1-2' tall) matures to orange with an unpleasant aroma. Seeds on fertile leaves of females mature to reddish brown. Female plants will not produce seed without a nearby male, however these plants rarely flower when grown indoors in containers.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for a kind of palm.

Specific epithet honors Georg Eberhard Rumphius (1627-1702), Dutch naturalist of the Dutch East India Company whose most important publication was Herbarium Amboinense.


Watch for scale and mealybugs. Spider mites can be problematic in dry air.


Attractive cycad for tropical gardens. Shrub border. Lawn specimen. Rock gardens. Large containers.