Cycads are sexy trees. Unusually, they are either male or female, with the males producing very phallic-like cones and the females bearing seeds. This photo is of a female Cycad in our orangery, which has just produced seeds, which resemble furry orange eggs. If you shake the seed pods you can hear the seed rattling inside.
This particular Cycad (Cycas Revoluta, also known as the Sago Palm, although it isn’t a palm) is one of several which we used to keep outside, in the Gravel Garden. But they can’t really cope with our cold wet weather and after a few winters outside they began to look very sad. When the Orangery was built, we brought them inside and after a year of warmth they began to recover. Now they’re in perfect health.
Cyads grow very slowly, almost imperceptibly, and although in their native Japan they will grow to a height of several metres and will develop multiple stems, they never grow to full maturity in this country. Is it, then, worthwhile planting the seed? Well, if by chance the seed were to germinate, there is no chance of it growing to more than two or three feet in height in my lifetime. It may become a fully developed tree by the time my grandchildren (who aren’t born yet) reach middle age. In that case there’s no time to waste- let’s get that seed planted.