Metroxylon sagu is an important plant grown for its edible starch

Metroxylon sagu (Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui)

Metroxylon sagu (Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui) with its beautiful fronds, 11 Jan 2018It has been said that where Metroxylon sagu grows, nobody ever goes hungry.

It is an important plant economically grown throughout tropical Asia as a source of edible starch accumulated in its stem in large amounts.

An impressive palm with new leaves in brilliant red and has one of the largest flowers in the plant world, up to 7.6 m from the top of the palm, signalling its impending demise.

Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :

  • Botanical Name: Metroxylon sagu (Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui) is a fast-growing solitary palm, reaching up to 25 m tall, 11 Jan 2018Metroxylon sagu (syn.: Metroxylon inerme, Metroxylon longispinum).
  • Common Names: Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui.
  • Family name: Arecaceae.
  • Etymology: The genus Metroxylon is derived from metra, meaning pith and xylon, meaning xylem. The specific epithet sagu is the name of the palm tree from which starch is obtained from the piths of palms.
  • Origin: Native to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
    It is widely cultivated elsewhere around the globe.
  • Plant type: Evergreen and palmately lobed leaves of Metroxylon sagu (Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui), 8 Jan 2018An evergreen and perennial palm tree.
  • Features: Metroxylon sagu is from the genus Metroxylon that consists of ? species of palm trees.
    It is a multi-stemmed, large and clustering palm that sports a robust trunk below a crown of gracefully ascending deep green and pinnate leaves.
    New leaves are brilliant red in colour.
    Golfball-sized fruits of Metroxylon saguEach trunk in a cluster, flowers only once and dies after producing thousands of golfball-sized  and scaly fruits, only to be quickly replaced by a new sucker.
    The erect and cylindrical trunk grows between 7-25 m tall before it ends in an inflorescence.
    Before flowering, a stem bears about 20 pinnate leaves up to 10 m long.
    Each leaf has about 150-180 leaflets up to 175 cm long.
    The inflorescence, 3-7.5 m tall and wide, consists of the continuation of the stem and 15-30 upwardly-curving branches spirally arranged on it.
    Thick and yellow flowers of Metroxylon sagu (Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui) that resembles the head of a mop, Jan 8 2018Each first-order branch has 15-25 rigid, distichously arranged second-order branches.
    Each second-order branch has 10-12 rigid, distichously arranged third-order branches.
    Flower pairs are spirally arranged on the third-order branches, each pair consisting of one male and one hermaphrodite flower.
    The fruit is drupe-like, about 5 cm in diameter, covered in scales which turn from bright green to straw-coloured upon ripening.
  • Culture (Care): Metroxylon sagu or Sago Palm can be grown easily with least maintenance.
    Light: Metroxylon sagu (Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui) that will be followed with glossy purplish-black fruits, 8 Jan 2018Full sun.
    Moisture: High water needs.
    Soil: Humus-enriched, sandy, loamy, heavy clay and moist soils.
    Others: Best to cut down the stem shortly before the tree flowers, since the carbohydrate content is then at its highest.
    Use extreme caution when handling as the plant has spines or sharp edges. Once every quarter, feed the palm with a slow-release granular fertiliser formulated for palms that has nitrogen, phosphorous, manganese and potassium.
    Generally, it is free from serious diseases and pests.
    For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 11.
    80 cm long inflorescences of Metroxylon saguMetroxylon sagu or Sago Palm may not tolerate 1°C for prolonged periods.
    It grows best in areas where annual daytime temps are within the range 25-36°C but can tolerate 18-40°C.
    When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about 10°C.
  • Propagation: Easily propagated by collecting and replanting young suckers rather than by seed.
  • Usage: The tree of Metroxylon sagu or Sago Palm is of commercial importance as the main source of sago.
    Tiny starchy balls of Metroxylon sagu (Bataua Palm, Seje Palm, Pataua Palm, Ungurahui), Feb 2 2018This starch is used in cooking for puddings, noodles, breads and as a thickener. Pancakes made from sago are often eaten with freshly caught fish. Its leaflets are also used as thatching  which can remain intact for up to five years. The dried petioles are used to make walls and ceilings. They are very light and therefore also used in the construction of rafts.
    The waste from pith processing is used as a fertiliser.

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