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Metroxylon is a genus of monoecious flowering plants in the Arecaceae (palm) family, consisting of seven species. They are native to Western Samoa, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Moluccas, the Carolines and Fiji in a variety of habitats, and cultivated westward to Thailand and Malaya.[3]

Sago (Metroxylon sagu) in New Guinea.jpg
Metroxylon sagu
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Calamoideae
Tribe: Calameae
Genus: Metroxylon

The name is formed from the combination of two Greek words, metra - "womb", commonly translated as "heart" in this context and xylon - "wood", in allusion to the large proportion of pith contained in the plant.


The trunks of Metroxylon species are solitary or clumped and large to massive in size, and usually sprout aerial roots at leaf-scar rings. All but one is monocarpic (hapaxanthic), foliage is pinnate with oversized petioles and leaf sheaths. The petioles are distinguished by "groups of small black spines resembling the record made by a seismograph as it registers a mild tremor".[4] All species have spines on the rachis and petiole. The monocarpic species present a Christmas tree shaped inflorescence, or instead, upward-reaching branches spreading horizontally. The fruit, covered in tough scales, are relatively large for palms and contain one seed.[4]

Extant speciesEdit

It contains the following species [5][6][3][2]

Image Name Common name Distribution
  Metroxylon amicarum (H.Wendl.) Hook.f. Caroline ivory-nut palm Pohnpei, Chuuk
Metroxylon paulcoxii McClatchey Samoa
  Metroxylon sagu Rottb. Sago palm New Guinea, Maluku
Metroxylon salomonense (Warb.) Becc. Solomon palm New Guinea, Maluku, Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu
Metroxylon upoluense Becc. Samoa
  Metroxylon vitiense (H.Wendl.) Hook.f. Fiji sago palm Wallis and Futuna, Fiji
  Metroxylon warburgii (Heimerl) Becc. natangura palm[7] Santa Cruz Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu


  1. ^ Rottboell, Nye Samling af det Kongelige Danske Videnskabers Selskabs Skrifter 2:257. 1783 (conserved name) Type:M. sagu
  2. ^ a b The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11 September 2017).
  3. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  4. ^ a b Riffle, R. L. and Craft, P. (2003). An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms. Portland: Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-558-6 / ISBN 978-0-88192-558-6 (page 389)
  5. ^ WCSP, World Checklist of Arecaceae: Metroxylon
  6. ^ "Metroxylon species (Sago palm)" (PDF).
  7. ^ Sentance, Bryan; Sentance, Polly (2009). "2 Central and South America". Craft Traditions of the World: Locally Made, Globally Inspiring. London, UK: Thames & Hudson. pp. 72–73. ISBN 9780500514665. OCLC 317919883.