When people first think of keeping plants, one of the names that come to mind is the Sago Palm. Considered the ‘modern’ indoor houseplant, the Sago Palm is the preferred choice for many looking for indoor or outdoor plants for their home.
While the plant species has been around for millions of years, making them one of the oldest plants, many people aren’t aware that the entire Sago Palm is poisonous. So, while it may not be dangerous to touch the Sago Palm leaves, caution is always advised.
Are Sago Palm Leaves Poisonous?
Sago palm or Cycas revoluta is a stocky palm with spike-like leaves frequently used in landscaping and various settings, including outside shrub borders and pots in living rooms. In the U.S., sago palms grow in Zones 9 through 10, mostly in Southern areas, on the Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness scale.
Despite their friendly appearance, they can be dangerous to humans and animals, including cats and dogs, and are poisonous to consume. The plant is poisonous throughout, including the thorns.
However, the seeds are the most hazardous component as most Cycasin, a kind of glucoside, is found in the seeds. Therefore, avoid handling the seeds because Cycasin may cause digestive tract irritation if ingested.
Sago palms can potentially result in hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, problems with blood coagulation, liver damage or failure, and even death if not treated immediately. In addition, Cardboard Palms, also known as Zamia furfuracea, a near cousin of the Sago Palm, are also becoming more common in gardening supply stores. The same toxicity hazards apply to these plants.
When pets ingest sago palms, they frequently exhibit signs of weakness, vomiting, appetite loss, bruising, weariness, bloody feces, and stomach aches. Moreover, liver failure is a constant risk in sago palm poisoning incidents.
Dogs mainly appear to like the way these plants taste. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) receives hundreds of complaints about dogs consuming plants. In fact, this year has seen a sharp increase in instances involving the Sago Palm, which is particularly toxic to animals.
Since the entire plant is poisonous, including the seeds and fronds, keeping them away from your pets is preferable. Call your vet immediately if you think your pet may have consumed the plant and is exhibiting the symptoms mentioned above.
Studies have indicated that up to 50% of sago palm ingestion occurs in the animal’s death. However, early intervention increases the likelihood of survival.
Source of Toxins in Sago Palm
All of the parts of the Sago’s palms are poisonous, regardless of whether they are grown indoors or outdoors, but the seeds (also known as nuts) are the most dangerous to animals since they are simpler to consume than the thorny fronds. Even a tiny amount of the plant consumed might have negative consequences.
The sago palm includes several poisonous substances. These substances may adversely affect the neurological system and the liver or cause severe gastrointestinal distress.
Poisoning symptoms can start to show up as soon as 15 minutes after ingesting the poison, yet in rare circumstances, they may not begin to show for several hours. Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression might be the initial symptoms of poisoning, and irritation of the digestive tract is another risk.
These symptoms can appear insignificant, but more severe consequences, such as neurological symptoms and liver failure, could arise if ignored. Neurologic symptoms include weakness, a shaky stride, tremors, or seizures.
Liver damage might take 1-3 days to manifest. Pets with liver impairment may also exhibit the following symptoms, dark urine, enlarged belly, excessive drinking, urination, or dark feces.
Low blood glucose levels and impaired blood clotting capacity brought on by liver failure can result in bleeding both internally and outward. Death might result from blood loss and shock if these symptoms are not identified and addressed.
Sago’s palms are used as houseplants and residential landscaping; they are indigenous to tropical and subtropical climates. Cycasin, the main toxin in cycads, is found in all plant sections but is most concentrated in the seeds and roots. Even one or two seeds can be lethal to dogs when consumed.
Gastrointestinal (G.I.) bacteria convert Cycasin into its active substance, methyl azoxy methanol, which causes G.I. and liver toxicity in dogs after consumption. Most dogs that consume cycads exhibit G.I. symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. It is unclear if HE or another neurotoxin brings neurologic symptoms such as seizures and coma.
Early decontamination and treatment reduce the possibility of negative consequences.
If you believe your pet has consumed a part of the plant, inducing vomiting could help get it out. However, you must never attempt to induce vomiting at home without consulting a veterinarian because the stomach may get severely irritated.
Once the vomiting has been controlled, your pet can be given activated charcoal to lessen the gastrointestinal tract’s absorption of the poisons. However, again, this must only be done by a veterinarian as a change in the quantity of the activated charcoal can cause life-threatening fluctuations in salt levels and lung aspiration.
Vets may prescribe some drugs, including antacids, nausea meds, and gastrointestinal protectants.
N-acetylcysteine is also often given to lessen the likelihood of liver damage. Vitamin C and other drugs like liver protectors may also be used as a treatment in certain circumstances. The necessity for more extensive therapy arises if liver damage occurs.
Damage to the liver raises the chance of long-term consequences or even death. Liver disease might increase the likelihood of bleeding in pets. A blood transfusion or oxygen augmentation may be required if bleeding occurs.
To maintain normal blood glucose levels, your pet may require dextrose in their fluids, plasma transfusions, or vitamin K1.
In many cases, your pet may even require hospital care, where they receive fluids intravenously or subcutaneously.
Like other poisoning situations, prompt diagnosis and treatment increase the likelihood of success.
The outcome relies on several variables, including the pet’s beginning health, the amount consumed, and the period till therapy. Pets are less likely to experience long-term problems with early treatment.
Animals that are severely injured and survive could have chronic liver damage. Unfortunately, death may happen when there are severe symptoms or delayed treatment.
Although not all plants are sold at retail stores and plant nurseries with warning labels, some are. Pet owners must be aware of the risks associated with sago palms because no laws in the United States require warning labels on indoor plants.
Sago palm handling, in general, shouldn’t be problematic. One of the symptoms of exposure to this plant that has been described is not contracted dermatitis. Even so, if working with a plant that may be hazardous, it’s a good idea to use gloves, eye protection, and long sleeves. Additionally, wash your hands well after touching or trimming your plant.
Even if there aren’t any apparent risks associated with burning this plant, it’s best to be cautious than sorry. Sago Palm waste should be disposed of in sealed black plastic bags and dumping it. Before pickup, let your garbage provider know what kind of material is there.
Please do your research to identify Sago Palm when you encounter it at the shop. Stores are not required by law to warn customers about the dangers of this plant.
Although many people label it, many others do not. Because of this, you should always use the caveat emptor maxim while looking for palm trees for your house or yard.
You must keep a record of the plants in and around your house and be prepared to give them to medical specialists upon request. You must be extra cautious if you reside in a chilly region where Sago Palm has died back throughout the winter and is reviving in the spring with sensitive, green shoots.
When given early on by trained medical personnel, these medications will cause vomiting and eliminate any traces of the deadly plant from the stomach before the G.I. tract can further decompose it. Oral administration of activated charcoal is frequently used to absorb poisons that have entered the stomach.
Additionally, it could be helpful to undertake gastric lavage (stomach pump) to flush the stomach of toxins and plant matter. If you are entirely ignorant that you have consumed sago palm, you might not be able to seek medical help before symptoms appear.
A human or animal suffering from latter-stage Sago Palm poisoning may require intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, and plasma transfusions.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.