Family • Cycadaceae
Cycas rumphii Miq.
Long kou su tie
Scientific names Common names Cycas celebica Miq. Bait (Sul.) Cycas corsoniana G.Don [Invalid] Bayit (YK.) Cycas rumphii Miq. Bitogo (Tag.) Cycas speciosa D. Don Patubo (Tag.) Zamia corsoniana G. Don Patugo (Tag.) Pitogo (Tag.) Pitugo (P. Bis.) Uliba (Tag.) Oliva (Span.) Sauang (Ilk.) Spiny-leaved cycas (Engl.) False sago palm (Engl.) Queen sago (Engl.) Spiny-leaved cycas (Engl.) Oliva is a common name shared by (1) Cycas revoluta, oliba, oliva (Span.) and (2) Cycas rumphii, pitogo, oliva (Span.) Some taxonomists consider C. rumphii and C. circinalis as separate species. Some compilations list them as synonyms. Cycas rumphii Miq. is an accepted name. The Plant List Cycas circinalis L. is an accepted name. Cycas rumphii f. undulata is a listed synonym. The Plant List
Other vernacular names CHINESE: Hua nan su tie, Long wei su tie, Ci ye su tie, Long kou su tie. CZECHL Cykas rumpfuv. DANISH: Falsk sagocykas, Sagocikas. FRENCH: Cycas de Ceylan. GERMAN: Sagopalme, Sagopalmfan. INDIA: Tivoli (Nicobarese). JAPANESE: Kikasu rumufii RUSSIAN: Sagovnik rumfa.
Cycas, the single genus of the family Cycadaceae, consists of about 100 species, chiefly Indo-Chinese (40) and Australian (27). Cycads vary in size from trunks only a few centimeters to several meters tall. Slow in growth, cycads live long, some species known to last about 1,000 years.
Cycas rumphii is commonly confused with Cycas revoluta, but pitogo is a much larger plant, with larger leaves and smooth and glabrous ovules. Trunk is stout and woody, growing to a height of 12 meters, 20 to 50 centimeters in diameter, with a round and symmetrical crown of large, hard, stiff, evergreen leaves. Leaves are 1.5 to 2.5 meters long, crowded at the apex of the trunk, leaflets are 20 to 30 centimeters long, about 1 centimeter wide, smooth and shining, falcate, 45 to 90 on each side of the midrib. Male cones are terminal, elongated-cylindric or ovoid-cylindric. Leaves are numerous, about 30 centimeters long and densely rusty-tomentose. Fruit is smooth, ovoid to ellipsoid, 3 to 5 centimeters long.
- From Batanes Islands and northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao, chiefly along or near the seashore.
- Occasional growths in forests.
- Commonly cultivated in the Philippines as an ornamental plant.
- Also occurs in Malaya to Polynesia.
- Toxicity from a glucoside in the seeds, with phytosterine.
- The plant yields a resin that is used medicinally in India.
- Yields a gum resembling tragacanth.
- Male bracts believed to be narcotic, stimulant and aphrodisiac.
- Studies have shown antibacterial, aromatase inhibitory properties.
Edibility / Nutritional
- Ripe seeds are used as food in times of famine, especially in the Batanes Islands. Likewise, in Guam, the cycas seeds are a staple article of food in times of scarcity.
- The untreated seeds may be poisonous.
- In Malabar, the starch from the trunk and seed is considered superior to Caryota flour but inferior to rice flour, and eaten by the hill tribes and when rice becomes scarce.
- Seeds also reportedly eaten in India, the Andaman, in the Malay Peninsula, and the Dutch Indies.
- In India, a kind of sago is prepared from the starch stored in the trunk.
- In some parts of the Philippines, the young leaves (still rolled up) are cooked and eaten as vegetable.
- In the Philippines, powdered roasted whole seed is mixed with coconut oil and applied to wounds, boils, itchy skin lesions.
- In India, resin is used for malignant ulcers, facilitating suppuration.
- Male bracts used are a narcotic, stimulant and aphrodisiac.
- Poultice of fruit-bearing cone is applied to loins for nephritic pains.
- Tincture from pericarp of seed and bark or poultice of bark and seeds used for sores and edematous swellings.
- Seeds are used for dizziness, headaches, and sore throats.
- Poultice of bark used for swellings.
- In Dutch East Indies, juice of young mucilaginous leaves used for flatulence and vomiting of blood.
- In Bangladesh, used for gynecological disorders, sore throat, tuberculosis, pain.
- In India, male cones and pollen of C. rumphii are considered strongly narcotic and sold as anodyne in bazaars. Female cones are made into poultice and applied to nephritic pains. (10)
- In India, tribal people of the Nicobar Islands use the plant topically for fever. (11)
- Rituals: Leaves used in religious ceremonies.
- Glue: Barp sap used as glue.
• Medical Hypothesis: Cycad neurotoxins and flying foxes connect: The high incidence of neurodegenerative diseases (ALS-PDC) among the Chamorro people of Guam is proposed as connected to the consumption of flying foxes high on plant neurotoxins from its foraging on neurotoxic cycad seeds. (1)
• Cycad neurotoxins: The cycad neurotoxic amino acid, ß-N-methylamino- -alanine (BMAA), elevates intracellular calcium levels in dissociated rat brain cells. (2)
• Aromatase Inhibitors / Estrogen-Dependent Tumors: In a study of tropical plants searching for inhibitors of the cytochrome P-450 aromatase which may be efficacious in treating estrogen-dependent tumors, extracts of 5 cycad folia, including Cycas rumphii, were all found to contain inhibitors of the human enzyme. (3)
• Antibacterial / Leaves: Study investigated the antibacterial potential of leaves of C. rumphii. Ethanol and methanol extracts showed maximum antibacterial activity against most of the bacteria tested. The most susceptible gram positive bacteria was S. albus while the most susceptible gram negative bacteria was S. boydii. (5)
• BMAA: (1) Cycads yields ß-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), which has been implicated in the in the etiology of the devastating neurodisease ALS-PDC found among the native Chamorros on Guam. (2) BMAA is potentially neurotoxic. Studies have suggested the BMAA is not produced by the cycad itself by by the cyanobacteria present in the collaroid roots. A review supports a connection between cycad exposure and the development of ALS-PDC in Guam. B-methylaminoalanine (BMAA) is found in cycad. However, analytical methods have not been adequately validated. Still, human epidemiological data suggests the amount of BMAA in processed cycad flour is not enough to be the main cause of degenerative neurological disease after consumption of cycad flour. (6)
• BMAA / ß-Carbamate / ALS-PDC: Cycad Study support the hypothesis that the neurotoxicity of BMAA is due to an excitotoxic mechanism, involving elevated intracellular calcium levels and bicarbonate. BMAA alone did not produce the increase in Ca++ levels, and results suggest an involvement of product of BMAA and CO2, namely a ß-carbamate, which may be the causative agent of ALS-PDC on Guam.
• Macrozamin / Seeds and Leaves: HPLC analysis showed macrozamin, a toxic methylazoxymethanol glycoside, to be ubiquitous in leaf and seed kernel samples of selected South African cycad species, detected at fresh levels at range of 0.026 to 0.23%. Cycas revoluta macrozamin content in this study was 0.12 ± 0.052 % for leaves and 0.11 ± 0.023 % for kernel. (also see: Oliba) (10)
© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.
Updated March 2018 / August 2015
IMAGE SOURCE: File:Cycas circinalis.jpg / Raul654 / around Washington DC on May 7, 2005. / GNU Free Documentaion License /Wikipedia OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Male plant with cone / Vaizdas:Cycas rumphii BotGard1105MaleCone10.jpg / BotBin/ Nov 2005 / GNU Free Documentaion License / Vikipedija OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Cycas rumphii ( Sea Cycas)/ Leaves / Myussop // Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia / Ecopreneur / 2005 / GNU Free Documentaion License / All The Plants
Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Cycad neurotoxins, consumption of flying foxes, and ALS-PDC disease in Guam
Paul Alan Cox, PhD and Oliver W. Sacks, MD / Neurology 2002;58:956-959
The cycad neurotoxic amino acid, ß-N-methylamino- -alanine (BMAA), elevates intracellular calcium levels in dissociated rat brain cells / Delia M Brownson, Tom J Mabrya, Steven W Lesliec / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 82, Issues 2–3, October 2002, Pages 159–167
Presence of aromatase inhibitors in cycads / Maria Kowalska et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology
Volume 47, Issue 3, 28 July 1995, Pages 113-116 / doi:10.1016/0378-8741(95)01259-G
A Survey of Medicinal Plant Usage by Folk Medicinal Practitioners in Two Villages by the Rupsha River in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh / Ariful Haque Mollik, Azmal Ibna Hassan et al / American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 4(3): 349-356, 2010
Antibacterial Activity of Cycas rumphii Miq. Leaves Extracts against Some Tropical Human Pathogenic Bacteria / Abdul Viqar Khan, Qamar Uddin Ahmed, Athar Ali Khan and Indu Shukla / Research Journal of Microbiology, 6: 761-768 / DOI: 10.3923/jm.2011.761.768
Analysis, occurrence, and toxicity of ß-methylaminoalanine (BMAA), A risk for the consumer? / TemaNord 2007:561
Sorting Cycas names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
Cycad / Wikipedia
Cycas rumphii / Synonyms / The Plant List
Isolation and quantification of the toxic methylazoxymethanol glycoside macrozamin in selected South African cycad species / Jerald J Nair, Johannesvan Staden / South African Journal of Botany, Vol 82, Sept 2012: pp 108-112 / https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2012.07.011
Herbal medicine & healthcare practices among Nicobarese of Nancowry group of Islands - an indigenous tribe of Andaman & Nicobar Islands / M. Punnam Chander, C. Kartick & P. Vijayachari / Indian J Med Res, 141, May 2015: pp 720-744