Metroxylon sagu

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Metroxylon (meht-ROKS-ih-lohn)
sagu (SAH-goo)
Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Metroxylon (meht-ROKS-ih-lohn)
sagu (SAH-goo)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Borneo, Java, Malaya, Maluku, New Guinea, Solomon Is., Sumatera,
Bulolo-Lae Road, Papua New Guinea. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
and Thailand.


Robust to massive, solitary or clustered, armed or unarmed, hapaxanthic or pleonanthic (monocarpic), polygamous tree palms. Stem erect, cylindrical, up to 20 m tall, usually partly obscured by remaining leaf bases, bearing circular leaf scars on the nodes, the internodes sometimes having usually spine-like adventitious roots; cortex hard, pith soft and rich in starch. Leaves large, pinnately compound, erect, spreading or sometimes horizontal, marcescent or sometimes neatly abscising; sheath clasping the stem, splitting opposite the petiole, covered with caducous indumentum, smooth or having semicircular transverse ridges bearing series of more or less conspicuous spines; petiole well developed, largest in tillers, armed or unarmed like the sheath, rounded abaxially, deeply grooved adaxially in the proximal part; rachis like the petiole but angled adaxially; leaflets numerous, single-fold, linear, acuminate, straight to drooping, arranged regularly or in clusters, usually armed with inconspicuous short spines along the margin and main vein, green and shiny, slightly paler beneath. Inflorescence a panicle, branched to 2 or 3 orders, interfoliar (axillary) in pleonanthic species, in hapaxanthic species suprafoliar (terminal) and aggregated into a compound, multibracteate inflorescence with branches equivalent to axillary inflorescences, each subtended by a reduced leaf or bract and sometimes emerging through a split in its mid-line; peduncle very short; rachis much longer than peduncle; bracts armed or unarmed; rachillae catkin-like, robust, cylindrical, with a short stalk-like portion and a dense spiral of imbricate, membranous bracts, each enclosing a pair of flowers (dyad), one male and one bisexual; male flowers open before the somewhat flatter bisexual ones; calyx 3-lobed, corolla twice the length of the calyx, 3-lobed; stamens 6, filaments united at base, forming a tube around the ovary in bisexual flowers; pollen grains elliptical, dicolpate; in bisexual flowers pistil tricarpellate, triovulate, style conical with 3 stigmatic angles. Fruit drupe-like, subglobose, usually large and containing 1 seed; exocarp covered in neat vertical rows of shiny yellowish to brown, reflexed, imbricate, rhomboidal scales; mesocarp rather thick, corky or spongy; endocarp not differentiated. Seed globose, deeply invaginated apically, sarcotesta thin to thick fleshy; endosperm homogeneous, hard, bony; germination adjacent-ligular, eophyll bifid or pinnate.; - Metroxylon amicarum. Solitary, pleonanthic; stem 6-8 (-20) m tall, 30-40 cm in diameter, brown-corky, pith fibrous, upper part often with stubs of old inflorescences; leaves 5-6 m long, spiny, about 85 pinnae on each side of the strong woody rachis, petiole 25 cm long, sheath 90 cm long and closed in its lower 30 cm, median pinnae 110 cm 10 cm; inflorescence interfoliar, axillary, up to 125 cm long with about 12 primary (first-order) branches, the lower ones each with 6 rachillae 10-14 cm long (rachillae here second-order branches); fruit 7-11 (-13) cm long, 8-9.5 (-12) cm wide, covered with 24-28 rows of brown-red scales, bearing a prominent tubercle at apex. ( Editing by edric.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 11

Comments and Curiosities

Of the Metroxylon genus only Metroxylon sagu, are both hapaxanthic (monocarpic) and soboliferous (clustering).

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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