Monday, July 11, 2011

Cycas circinalis


Description
Like other cycads, the queen sago resembles a palm tree with its featherlike leaves arranged in a rosette that crowns a single trunk. It is a larger and more graceful version of its more commonly encountered cousin, the Japanese or king sago (Cycas revoluta). The queen sago's solitary trunk can grow to 20 ft (6.1 m) in height, more than twice that of the Japanese sago. In older specimens some branching may occur, producing very handsome plants with multiple crowns.
The dark green pinnate leaves grow to 8 ft (2.4 m) in length with narrow 12 in (30.5 cm) leaflets that curve gracefully downward. New leaves are light green and contrast dramatically with the older foliage. This species is dieocious, with male and female reproductive parts on separate plants. In late winter the male and female "cones" emerge from the centers of the plants. Pollen from the male cones fertilizes the female cones. A colorful show results later in the season when female plants produce large orange seeds in a conelike structure located in the center of the rosette of leaves.
Location
Queen sago (Cycas circinalis) is native to equatorial Africa. It is now a popular landscape item in frost free areas everywhere.
CultureQueen sago is tolerant of most soils, but prefers loose sandy soils with some organic matter and light bark or leaf mulch.Light: Bright conditions are best. Queen sago can take full sun and moderate shade as well.Moisture: Queen sago needs adequate moisture but will tolerate occasional short-lived droughts. Make sure the soil is well drained or roots will rot.Hardiness:  This plant is not cold hardy and must be protected from frost and freezing temperatures. 
Propagation: The sagos are propagated by seed. Press seeds to half their depth in moist sand. Kept moist and in a warm environment, the seeds will usually germinate in 8 to 12 weeks.
UsageThis beautiful cycad looks great almost anywhere! Queen sago is great for entryways or by the patio. It is especially effective when used as a focal point on a large expanse of lawn. Pop one in a mixed shrub border to add contrasting texture. In recent years, specimens in South Florida have been under attack from a fungus disease and from scale insects. Treat with fungicide when necessary to control spotting. Scale infestations can be treated with applications of OrtheneTM and alternating applications of horticultural oil and insecticidal soap solutions.
Features
This is a great plant that is relatively easy to grow and that lends a real sense of the tropics to any environment. Queen sago is readily available for a reasonable price from garden centers and nurseries in frostfree areas of the country.
A flour is obtained from the seeds. This must be thoroughly washed and processed to remove toxins. There is evidence that long term use of such flour, even if properly prepared, may still result in paralysis and other neurological disorders over time.




















Coco Peat


Coco peat (cocopeat), also known as coir pithcoir fibre pithcoir dust, or simply coir, is made from coconut husks, which are byproducts of other industries that use coconuts. Coir waste from coir fiber industries is washed, heat-treated, screened and graded before being processed into coco peat products of various granularity and denseness, which are then used for horticultural and agricultural applications and as industrial absorbent.
Usually shipped in the form of compressed bales, briquettes, slabs or discs, the end user usually expands and aerates the compressed coco peat by the addition of water. A single kilogram of coco peat will expand to 15 litres of moist coco peat.
Trichoderma is a naturally occurring fungus in coco peat; it works in symbiosis with plant roots to protect them from pathogenic fungi such as pythium. It is not present in sterilized coco peat. Trichoderma is also destroyed by hydrogen peroxide.

Uses

Botanical

Coco peat is used as a soil additive. Due to low levels of nutrients in its composition, coco peat is usually not the sole component in the medium used to grow plants. When plants are grown exclusively in coco peat, it is important to add nutrients according to the specific plants' needs. Coco peat from Sri Lanka and India contains several macro- and micro-plant nutrients, including substantial quantities of potassium.
Coco peat is not fully decomposed when it arrives and will use up available nitrogen as it does so (known as drawdown), competing with the plant if there is not enough. Poorly sourced coco peat can have excess salts in it and needs washing (check electrical conductivity of run-off water, flush if high). It has a similar cation exchange capacity to sphagnum peat, holds water well, re-wets well from dry and holds around 1000 times more air than soil.
Common uses of coco peat include:
  • As a substitute for peat, because it is free of bacteria and most fungal spores, and is sustainably produced without the environmental damage caused by peat mining.
  • Mixed with sand, compost and fertilizer to make good quality potting soil. Coco peat generally has an acidity in the range of pH - 5.5 to 6.5. It is a little on the acidic side for some plants, but many popular plants can tolerate this pH range.
  • As substrate for growing mushrooms, which thrive on the cellulose. Coco peat has high cellulose and lignin content.
Coco peat can be re-used up to three times with little loss of yield. Coco peat from diseased plants should not be re-used.

Other

Being a good absorbent, dry coco peat can be used as an oil absorbent on slippery floors. Coco peat is also used as a bedding in animal farms and pet houses to absorb animal waste so the farm is kept clean and dry. Coco peat is hydrophilic unlike sphagnum moss and can quickly reabsorb water even when completely dry. Cocopeat is porous and cannot be overwatered easily.




Roystonea regia