Double headed palm tree

How can a palm tree have multiple trunks while trees are defined by having one trunk?

How can a palm tree have multiple trunks while trees are defined by having one trunk?

The word “tree” usually refers to a fairly tall (over 20′ ) plant with one woody stem (usually called the trunk) and lateral branching from the main stem.

Right there we see that a “palm tree” isn’t exactly a tree, because it doesn’t have lateral branching. “Tree” applied to a palm is more of a colloquial term describing the height and presence of a trunk.

“Palm” is the common name of any plant in the Arecaceae family.

There are many kinds of palm that are multi-stemmed or cluster plants rather than single-stemmed. (In woody plants these would be called bushes, but in the Arecaceae family they’re all called palms.) There are also types of palm that are stemless (though they aren’t really, because the stem is under the ground,) and even a few that climb on other plants. Arecaceae – Wikipedia

So, colloquially speaking, “palm tree” refers to one of the large, single-stemmed species, while “palm” refers to all of the members of this family.

Palm Trees Branch Out in Size and Shape

No tropical garden would be complete without palm trees. They come in a variety of sizes and styles. Depending on your space requirements and the look you want, you can choose from single- or multiple-trunk palms, which have three to six trunks coming out of the same central area.

Multiple-trunk palms are very showy, while single-trunk palms are often stately, according to Jeffrey Garton of Paradise Designs in Dana Point.

Palm trees range in height from three to 100 feet. Because they vary greatly in size, it’s possible to find the palms that are right for your space.

Some large palm trees include the popular queen palm, which is frequently used in homes. This grows up to 35 feet and has a long trunk and long arching fronds. Garton says these trees are durable; they aren’t bothered by winds or pests.


There is also the king palm, which grows to about 25 feet, although it is more delicate than the queen palm and can have problems if it is windy. A good palm for the coastal areas is the Washington palm, because it can withstand heavy salts. It grows as tall as 80 to 100 feet, though, and requires some growing space.

For more confined spaces, there are many palms to choose from, says Diane Grace, who is manager of the nursery at Pay Less Drug Store in Rancho Santa Margarita.

“The Mediterranean fan palm is very attractive and grows to 20 feet,” she says. “There is also the tepejilote, which reaches 10 feet; the paradise palm, which has nine-foot leaves and grows to seven feet; feathery leaf glaucifolia, which is an eight-footer; century palm, which grows to six or seven feet; cataractarum, which reaches four to five feet, and the polar palm which is a mere three feet.”

A good palm for containers is the triangular. According to Garton, this tree has a singular trunk shaped like a triangle and is a faded green in color with a slight blue tinge.


When planting a palm, it is important to consider transport, as these trees have trunks full of water and are very heavy.

“Palms need good, fast drainage, so you may want to backfill your soil with 50% sand before planting,” says Garton, who recommends planting the palms a little low in the ground to stabilize them.

Should You Prune Sago Palm Trees: How to Prune A Sago Palm

While sago palms can enhance nearly any landscape, creating a tropical effect, unsightly yellow-brown foliage or an over-abundance of heads (from pups) might leave one to wonder if you should prune sago palm. Keep reading to learn more about how to prune a sago palm.

Sago Palm Care & Pruning Sago Palms

Oftentimes, unsightly yellow fronds are a signal of a nutrient deficiency, which can usually be remedied with a boost of fertilizer, such as palm food or even citrus fertilizer. Poor, sickly looking plants can also be rejuvenated with manganese sulfate (amounts vary with plant size, from an ounce for small sagos on up to 5 lbs for larger ones) watered into the soil. Deficiencies in manganese are common in these plants. Note: do not confuse this with magnesium sulfate, which is the main ingredient found in Epsom salts and commonly used for treating magnesium deficiencies. To reduce the chance of nutrient deficiencies, sago palm should be fertilized at least every six weeks during the growing season.

Although some people feel the need to prune sago palm by removing these yellowing fronds, this is not recommended, especially on the lower leaves of deficient palms. This

can actually cause the problem to worsen, moving up to the next tier of leaves. Even as yellow leaves are dying, they are still absorbing nutrients, which if removed, could stunt plant growth or leave it susceptible to infections.

Therefore, it’s best only to try trimming sago palm fronds and growth that are dead, which will be brown. However, trimming sago palm annually can be done for aesthetic purposes, but only if done carefully.

How to Prune a Sago Palm

Pruning sago palms should never be excessive. Only remove completely dead, badly damaged, or diseased foliage. If desired, the fruit and flower stalks can be pruned as well. In addition to decreasing growth, cutting the green fronds can weaken the plant, making it more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Cut the oldest and lowest leaves as close to the trunk as possible. In some cases, all but the very top fronds are removed—but this would be extreme. You should also refrain from trimming sago palm leaves that are roughly between a ten and two o’clock position.

Prune Sago Palm Pups

Mature sago palms develop offsets, or pups, at the base or along the sides of their trunk. These can be removed in early spring or late fall. Gently dig and lift them from the base or pop them from the trunk with a hand trowel or knife.

If you’d like to create additional plants using these pups, simply remove all the foliage and lay them out to dry for a week or so. Then you can replant them in well-drained, sandy soil. Place half of the rootball just below the soil surface. Water thoroughly and keep the new pups in a shady area outside or a bright location indoors until rooting takes place — usually within a few months. Allow them to dry out some between watering and once roots appear, begin feeding them with a low dose of fertilizer.

Transplanting Sago Palm Pups

Do not repot or transplant new pups in the garden until they have formed extensive root systems. Sago palms do not like to be disturbed, so any transplanting needs to be done with great care. Newly planted sagos should only be moved during early spring, while mature palms can be transplanted during early spring or late fall.

We are seeing more fruiting and cone bearing with our beloved cycads than ever before; either because of the long cold winter and/or more plants have become mature enough to fruit. As you have noticed there are two different types of cones; Tall slender cones that last 7-14 days then shrivel and dry up and the short, fat, round cones that persist for 10 months or more on the plant. The fruiting cones illustrate the sex of the plant whether male or female and sex of the plant can only be determined by the cones. You can’t look under the leaves and determine sex!

The tall slender cones, you guessed it, is of course, the male which produces pollen to fertilize the female cone on the female plants. The male cone persists for 7-14 days and can be cut off or removed from the plant once it reaches its peak. NOTE: The cones do not come up out of the center of the caudex (growing tip), they are offset just a bit making it easier to remove the male cone.

The short round fat cones belong to the female which produces the seeds for the continued longevity of the plant. While these plants are in the coning phase, they will not produce fronds (leaves) as all the energy is directed to forming the cone. The female cones persist for months and drain the plant of its energy growing the seeds; you could call the female plant “pregnant”. The seeds develop into grape-like size and are surrounded by fur/hair. Now if you don’t want the toxic seeds around puppies or children, you can cut the female cone off the plant, slicing as close to the trunk as you can get it, remove and throw away.

The winter brown and/or green fronds (if it doesn’t freeze) should be completely removed every year as this reduces infestations of snow scale, black scale and mealy bugs that can attack the plants. Complete frond removal also gives a fresh look every season, activating plant growth and increasing the height of the trunk.

So where and how did the Sago come to us? The Cycas revoluta is the most cold hardy cycad from the Kuyushu Province in Japan that grows on the northernmost rock face. In 1993 over 110,000 plants were exported for the nursery industry and over 3,000,000 “palm leaves” were exported to US for cut flower trade.

NOTE: CYCAS REVOLUTA – CYCAD – SAGO PALM (NOT REALLY A PALM) ARE ALL NAMES FOR THE SAME PLANT WHICH IS VERY TOXIC TO HUMANS, PETS, AND LIVESTOCK. ALL PARTS OF THE PLANTS ARE POISIONOUS BUT THE SEEDS HAVE THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF CYCASIN POISION. Also you do not want ever breathe or get the male pollen in cuts or eyes, wash your hands after handling any parts of the plant. I have heard many expensive horror stories with vet bills and puppy death.

Contractors make amazing find after cutting down 4-headed palm

The palm, which has been named Groot, only has one head at this time.

PANAMA CITY — St. Andrews’ famous four-headed pindo palm might have been chopped down Wednesday, but its spirit lives on.

Not long after the tree was cut, Panama City’s Leisure Services Department received a call from the tree contractors saying they had found something interesting.

“Apparently, a seed from the 4-headed palm has wedged its way into part of the north end dead trunk, and it took life,” the Leisure Services Department wrote on its Facebook page.

The palm, which has been named Groot, only has one head at this time.

Previous studies of the four-headed palms’ offspring by the International Palm Society in the 1990s found the multiple heads are unlikely to be a genetic trait, but on the other hand, no one truly knows why the pindo palm had four heads to begin with, so anything could happen.

A small cedar tree also was found growing in the trunk and has been named Little Christmas.

Both are “soon to be members of the Oaks by the Bay landscape,” the Facebook post read. “The cycle of life is an amazing thing.”

Panama City made the decision to take down the iconic palm after studies by Bartlett Tree Experts found the tree was in “irreversible decline” and would be dead in three years regardless of what steps the city took. One of the heads already was dead, and the fronds on the other ones were visibly fading from green to brown.

By taking it down before the tree was completely dead, the city hopes to salvage the inside of the tree to create commemorative plaques from disks cut from the trunks. The city is working with Gulf Coast State College to determine if the wood is in good enough shape to make the plaques. More information will be posted on the city’s social media channels when available.

In the meantime, the space the tree occupied at the park has been left as greenspace. City officials said they are taking ideas from the public about what to put there.

Read more about the four-headed palm at

Sago Palm

Sago Palm

The sago palm may look like a tiny palm tree with its glossy, stiff fronds, but it is not a palm tree at all. Sago palms are cycads, one of the most ancient of plants that has been around since prehistoric times. As a houseplant, it is easy to grow indoors, but be very careful because the sago palm is poisonous.

genus name
  • Cycas revoluta
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Houseplant,
  • Shrub
  • 3 to 8 feet,
  • 8 to 20 feet
  • From 2 to 12 feet
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
problem solvers
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Good for Containers
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10,
  • 11
  • Division,
  • Seed

Prehistoric Plants

With the ability to live for hundreds of years, the sago palm makes a rugged houseplant. It is extremely slow-growing, sometimes putting out just one set of new leaves per year—or sometimes not that often. When plants do put out new growth, it is generally born in one symmetrical ring of leaves that emerges from the tip in an attractive bronze color. New leaves are quite soft when they emerge, but as they expand and age they take on their signature stiff, glossy leaves.

The way these plants reproduce is another relic of their prehistoric nature. Unlike many plants, they do not flower but create large, cone-like structures instead. Each plant may be female or male, and the cones are born are on each plant. It can take fifteen years or more for a plant to produce cones. In order to pollinate, both a male and female plant is needed nearby.

These are the perfect houseplants for the forgetful gardener.

Sago Palm Care Must-Knows

Sago palms are tropical plants often grown as houseplants because indoor climates typically resemble the tropical climates they are used to. Sago palms do well in containers because they like well-drained soil. One of the surest ways to kill a sago palm is to overwater it. Although they don’t like being overly moist, they do appreciate consistent moisture and humidity. If they are allowed to dry out too often, the tips of the foliage may become brown and have some dieback.

Sago palms appreciate bright, indirect light but can burn in too much direct sun in the summer. This makes them a perfect plant for a sunny windowsill in a house setting. They also make great container plants outdoors as long as some shelter from direct sun is provided. While they can take some shade, too much shade ups the risk of rot and causes plants to have sparser foliage. Sago palms also appreciate humidity, so if plants seem to struggle indoors, try placing them over a humidity tray to create a more amenable environment.

Sago palms are generally low-maintenance and pest-free, but a common issue is scale, a problematic pest seen growing along leaves. Scale are white or brown and generally do not move. Scale can be tricky to control as they have a hard, waxy coating that protects them from most insecticide sprays. The best way to control scale is with a systemic insecticide. Leaves of sago palm are also susceptible to fungal rot, which shows up as brown spots on the leaves. While this will not kill your plant, it is unsightly. Removal of affected foliage is the best way to eliminate the fungus.

Be aware of these poisonous houseplants.

More Varieties of Sago Palm

Queen sago palm

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Cycas rumphii is more treelike than king sago palm. It grows 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide with a swollen trunk 18 inches in diameter. Male plants may form side branches on the upper trunk or from the base. It is less hardy than king sago, growing in Zones 9-11.

King sago palm

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Cycas revoluta is the most common species. It is relatively small, growing 8 feet tall and wide. Slow-growing sago palm grows best in well-drained soil and is drought tolerant. Sago palm makes a stately indoor plant in a bright spot. Zones 8-11

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