Queen Sago (ഈന്തൽ)

Scientific Name: Cycas circinalis L.

Synonyms: Cycas circinalis var. veraJ.Schust

Unique ID: 209

Systematic Position

Class: Gymnospermae

Family: Cycadaceae

Common Names

English –Queen sago

Malayalam – ഈന്തൽ

Tamil – Katu thuvai



Description: Cycas circinalis has leaflets not more than 13 mm broad and long that easily tell this species apart from all other Indian species. The distinctive non-pepectinate megasporophyll with large, elongated, relatively broad megasporophyll lamina. The attenuate, reflexed microsporophyll apex are also characteristic of this species. This megasporophyll morphology occurs in many other species, and largely the cause of much of the confusion. The attenuate microsporophyll state is, however, restricted to a few species from the Indian subcontinent.
Stem: Up to 7 m tall always unbranched, whereas the King Sago, Cycas revoluta, creates many heads branching off from the main trunk and also from sprouts at ground level.
Roots: All cycads have special upwardly growing multi-branched (coralloid) roots where nitrogen is fixed in symbiosis with Nostoc and Anabena algae.
Leaves: Bright green, semiglossy, arranged in a rosette pattern 150-270 cm long flat (not keeled) in section . Petiole 34-70 cm long, partly or entirely spinescent. Petiole and pinnae pubescent. Pinnae (leaflets) 54 to 110 more or less opposed each other along the central stem(opposing leaflets inserted at 180° on rachis), median pinnae 23-36 cm long, 9-13 mm wide with 9-14 mm spacing between pinnae, margins flat, midrib raised above and distinct below. New emerging leaves have a glaucous sheen. Young leaves are densely pubescent but as they grow older they become glabrous. Female cone: Like other Cycas species, the female plants do not bear cones; instead they carry ovules and seeds on large, feather-like megasporophylls which are 20-35 cm long, with between six and 14 ovules, and an orange tomentum. The lamina/blade or sterile part of the megasporophylls 27-40 mm long, 28-33 mm wide rhomboid tapering into a long spine that is 14-34 mm long and 3-6 mm wide, strongly dentate or spinous toothed along margin. The 13 to 28 lateral spines are each 3-4 mm long. Male cone: Coming from the center of the top,light yellowish-brown to brown, egg-shaped to conical (24-)34-48 cm long, 12-15(-18) cm wide and produces abundant pollen. Each microsporophyll is 45-60 mm long and 21-24 mm wide with a terminal spine 20-39 mm long. Seeds: The seeds of Cycas circinalis are quite small, subglobular to elongated, 30-39 mm long and 20-24 mm wide, they display a distinctive spongy, fibrous layer within the sarcotesta that allows them to float on water and are light yellow,reddish-yellow or brown at maturity.

Habitat: Cycas circinalis appears to be an adaptable species found in different habitats comprising fairly dense, seasonally dry deciduous forest , shrub forest and savanna woodland in rocky hill outcrops, and in semi evergreen forests, at sea level too; The plant is widely cultivated in Hawaii and elsewhere in the tropics, both for its appearance in landscape and interiors, and for cut foliage.

Distribution: Cycas circinalis, also known as the queen sago, is a species of cycad known in the wild only from southern India (Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and may also occur south of Maharashtra)  

Uses:  Ornamental, traditional medicine, food

Other: Endangered (IUCN)