Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) are Toxic! 

After spending, most of yesterday at the vet clinic my 9-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy Bella is fine today, but her choosing a Sago Palm as a chew toy made her very ill.  I wanted to write about this because to be honest her getting so sick after chewing on the “pups” of a mature Sago Palm caught me off guard.  Yes…I had heard that the plant was poisonous but I figured she’d have to ingest a lot of it to be affected.  I was completely wrong!

The Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) is not a true palm but rather a Cycad from Southern Japan and these plants date to the Jurassic age.  They have survived because they are tough which is why they are widely used in our area.  They are drought tolerant and very deer resistant, but they do come with some very serious drawbacks.  All parts of the plant, both male and female are poisonous to dogs and cats.  Even very young Sagos carry enough of the poison cycasin to cause death in pets.  The red berry like seeds are the most toxic parts of plant and usually the most attractive to pets and children.  I’ve listed a helpful website at the end of this article that will provide more detailed information on the toxicity of Sagos to our fur babies.

The “pups” I refer to are actually baby Sagos that sprout from the base of the trunk.  These pups can become mature Sagos if left in place.  They are usually removed from the mother plant to avoid overcrowding and becoming unsightly.  This is exactly what happened with my Sagos.  These pups had been removed but it was a mistake to leave them on the ground since they obviously looked very much like nature-made balls to my Aussie puppy.  Thankfully she brought them up on the patio to chew on them so I knew exactly what she’d been ingesting when she started to vomit.  My call to vet was met with a “bring her in now” instruction and she was forced to vomit, given fluids and activated charcoal.  Blood tests were done after the treatment.

As a landscape contractor with over 25 years’ experience I felt somewhat amiss in not realizing the extent of the danger that Sago Palms can present in a backyard setting.  I will note that Sago Palms are often overlooked when folks list poisonous plants in Texas…still no excuse on my part.  I will be much more forthcoming with this information to my clients in the future and certainly more cautious with what plants I put into designs for folks with pets and children.

This is a good reference for toxic landscape plants in Texas–The Bark

Familiar Landscape Plants Toxic  


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