Neither ferns nor palms, these evergreen plants are primitive, cone-bearing relatives of conifers, excellent for tropical effects. A rosette of dark green, feathery leaves grows from a central point at the top of a single trunk (sometimes several trunks). Eventually as wide as tall. Female plants bear conspicuous, egg- shaped, red-to-orange seeds. Plants can be propagated (best done in spring) either from seed or by separating offsets that sprout near the base.
C. circinalis. QUEEN SAGO. Zones TS; USDA 10-11. Native to Old World tropics. Beautiful specimen plant to 20 ft. tall, 1020 ft. wide. Graceful, drooping leaves to 8 ft. long atop unbranching trunk. Protect from frost.
C. revoluta. SAGO PALM. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; or indoors. Hardy to 15F. Native to Japan. In youth, reaches 23 ft. tall and wide and has an airy, lacy, fernlike appearance; with age (grows very slowly to 10 ft.), looks more like a palm. Leaves are 23 ft. long (larger on very old plants) and divided into many narrow, leathery segments. Tough, tolerant patio plant; good in foundation or entry planting. Leaf spot disease is a problem in high-rainfall areas. Makes an outstanding large houseplant in bright indirect light. Needs only occasional watering (less in winter) and takes many years to outgrow its container.