Poisonous Sago Palm

ryan_tree(7aVA)July 9, 2008

Are sago palms really poisonous to people and animals? I am worried about the new one I just purchased. What kind of soil does it need? Can I have basic care about them because I just bought one at Wal-Mart. Can they survive in VA? I got it from NC. Do I need to put a heat lamp over it during winter? Is it poisonous?

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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Where in VA do you live? In most parts of VA they're not hardy. They will begin to defoliate around 14 degrees, maybe higher. I cannot speak to the toxicity of the plants. I suspect only the seeds MAY be toxic. I wouldn't worry about yours producing seed though. It can take years and years. I don't think most animals would find the fronds palatable.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 12:27PM
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Here's a link

Here is a link that might be useful: Poisonous Plants

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:53PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

Sagos are planted EVERYWEHRE here and i have yet to hear of someone or something dying from eating it. They are common in homes, businesses, parking lots, schools....everywhere.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:54PM
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cycadjungle(z9b Cent FL)

All parts of all cycads are poisonous, even the pollen and seeds. They have neuro toxins in them and the strongest natural carcinogens in the world. For a person to get sick on these things they would have to eat a lot of material. I would not worry about this as far as a person goes. Now, small animals is a different story. I get about 3 to 6 phone calls, or e-mails each year from someone trying to find out what can be done about their small dog that just ate some Zamia furfuracea seeds, and is at the vet, and is dying of liver and kidney failure. The furfuraceas down in Miami produce seeds where they get hand pollinated or not and they drop seeds everywhere and the small animals are attracted to the orange coating on the seeds. It doesn't take too many for small dogs about 10 or so pounds. Large dogs can eat more material, but I did get a call one time from someone with a full sized black lab that was in danger, and I told him what to do, and from what I heard, he came out of it. On a large animal, a man down the street threw all his sago leaves that he just cut off, over the fence where the cows were and 3 of them were stupid enough to eat some of the leaves. Most animals seem to know to stay away, but these did not. In cattle, it paralyzes their back legs and they drag their back legs around for about 3 months. His came out of it after about 3 months. In Australia, where they have a dry period and the only green left are the Macrozamias, the cattle will eat them because there isn't anything else to eat, and many die because they can't crawl to get to water.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 11:15PM
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I can say they itch like hell when being pricked by them.. very interesting story cycad.. very insightful.. thanks..

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 11:58PM
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for kevip711 and anyone else - I was pricked by a sago working in the yard this week end. i have lots of redness and itching; the area of skin affected is now about 2 inches diameter. does anyone know what to do???

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 9:23AM
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blast54 clean your infected area with peroxide. Then either break a fresh peice of Aloe and rub in it's juices or use some Cortizone 10. Either should releave the itching and cool the rash. The rash should go away within a week. A friend of mine was alergic to Philodendrons (also poisonous to animals) and this remedy worked for him.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 5:54PM
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petsitterbarb(Zone 6, N.E. OK)

I just got a warning email from a vet in N.Y. regarding the Sago Palm... http://wwwburnthillsvethosp.com They state that all parts, if ingested, will cause fatal liver failure. I also got an email from a petsitter that knows of one dog that died from just playing tug-o-war with one of the pieces that was left in the yard after the plant had been trimmed. There is no way I'd have this plant around any plants or animals.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 2:43PM
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My husband is a vet. He is seeing more and more cases as Sagos increase in popularity here in Texas. Just this week a client's dog died after ingesting part of the root of the plant. After presenting symptoms, the mortality rate is 65 percent!! I wouldn't have them anywhere near my pets.

Lots of plants are rated as toxic, but Sagos are exceptionally bad.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 2:18PM
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I am a veterinarian and this is indeed one of the most common plant poisonings in dogs (not heard of one in a cat). However, considering how ubiquitous these plants are, the actual incidence of poisoning versus exposure is pretty small. I have 8 dogs and lots of cycads and some have been torn out of the ground and chewed on a bit by my dogs (never actually eaten any that I've seen) and no problems... but I don't have any seeding plants and most of my cycads are pretty spiny (only a few Sago palms). However it still is somewhat of a concern. There are literally thousands of toxic plants out there and one must really know HOW toxic they are, how they are toxic, and know your own pets and their liklihood of actually eating something. Look at a toxic plant list and you will see Aloes, Agaves and Poinsettias on them, too.. hardly any toxic principles to any of those. Oleander is super toxic, yet not seen a dog ever eat one (a single leaf ingested could kill a small dog). But seen plenty of toxicities from onion and garlic ingestion that most people wouldn't think would be toxic to their dogs.. .grapes and macadamia nuts, too. However, the most common plant poisoning I have seen as a vet is marijuana... fortunately no fatalaties from that one, though.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:44AM
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