Sago Palms grow in southern Pacific countries. They are farmed as a source of starch.
A piece of land planted with Sago palms can produce four times more edible starch than if the land had been used for rice. The trees can grow almost anywhere, even in swamps.
The starch is in the trunks.
The tree actually consists of several trunks, growing in a clump. Like all palms, the tree has no bark or branches. It can grow 20 to 45 feet (6 to 14 metres) tall. A trunk starts off as a sucker springing out of the ground, growing as a cluster of leaves. In five years, a trunk springs up out of the leaves, and in four to six years after that it is a full-grown trunk. When the trunk is 12 to 15 years old, it is ready to flower. Just before it flowers, the largest leaves fall off.
The flowers are cross-pollinated by insects, and after that, fruit appears in two years (sic.)
One trunk can be harvested, leaving the rest. If just left to grow, the palms bear fruit, then die.
The trunk has the most starch just before it flowers.
The leaves can be used to weave roofs, baskets, cages, bags, rope or be used as a food wrapper.
There is a spiny subvariety (Metroxylon rumphii Mart), whose stems have very sharp thorns on them, and a non-spiny subvariety (Metroxylon sagus Rottb.)
Pronounced “Say – go”.