Assortment of Cycad indoor tropical plants

The cycad is a slow growing plant that starts as a compact, round cluster of leaves, eventually extending out of the soil on a pole-like trunk as high as twenty feet. Even when it is young, before the trunk is much taller than a few inches, the leaves can form a circle 2 to 6 feet in diameter. The cycad is an excellent container plant, and offers a commanding presence in a large area display. In the furthest southern regions of North America, cycads are often grown outdoors as trees.

The Cycad will usually thrive in medium light levels, although it enjoys bright light, especially during periods of growth. Cycad native regions are typically somewhat humid, but this plant can tolerate normal indoor air moisture levels if kept away from vents with dry furnace air.

Despite its similarity with various types of palm trees — and notwithstanding the common name of one of the most popular Cycads, "Sago Palm," — the Cycad is not a palm at all. It isn't even closely related. It's actually in the same group of plants as conifers, and surprisingly, a close relative of the ginkgo tree. Cycads first emerged 280 million years ago, well before the first dinosaurs, during the Permian Period. Some cycads alive today are considered "living fossils," in that they haven't changed significantly since they first appeared millions of years ago.