The roots are very fleshy, and often special, upward
growing, root nodules appear near to the soil surface. These are
home to blue! green algae which produce essential extra nutrients
for the cycad and they should never be removed.
Like all species of Cycad, specimens of Cycas revoluta
are either male or female. Unless you have a plant propagated from
a sucker of an individual of known sex, it is unlikely you will
ever discover the gender of your plant. This can only be determined
when it produces cones, (cycads do not flower), and this is something
only large, established specimens tend to do. Cones emerge from
the top of the plant, instead of leaves. In the male this resembles
a tall pine cone some 70cm long, the scales that comprise it opening
on maturity to shed pollen. The female cone I can only describe
as resembling a giant, furry cabbage! lt is comprised of large,
ragged, leathery scales, covered in a felt-like material and packed
closely together a tan/brown in colour. lt is a stumning sight!
Within the cone scales of the female structure lie the large, red!
orange seeds. From pollination these take around two months to mature
and are then of a similar size to a walnut. Once the seeds are ripe,
the cone begins to fall open and gradually disintigrate. In habitat,
the seeds are believed to be distributed by birds. Often, a plant
that has coned will take a rest from leaf production for a year
or so, but having restored its spent energy, a new flush of foliage
will emerge through the remnants of the old cone structure.
Not surprisingly, such an ornamental plant has been
in cultivation for a very long time, especially in its homeland
of Japan. Here many forms are known, including those with variegated
foliage . The plant can even be successfully grown as a bonsai.
It is the worlds most popular cycad and is produced, probably by
the many million, by the nursery trade in many temperate areas.