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

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]

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 species[edit]

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

Image Name Common name Distribution
Metroxylon amicarum - Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii by Forest and Kim Starr.jpg Metroxylon amicarum (H.Wendl.) Hook.f. Pohnpei, Chuuk
Metroxylon paulcoxii McClatchey Samoa
Metrox sagu 071124 1516 stbu.jpg 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.jpg Metroxylon vitiense (H.Wendl.) Hook.f. Fiji Sago Palm Wallis and Futuna, Fiji
Metroxylon warburgii (Heimerl) Becc. 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).