Cycas revoluta – Famine Foods

Cycas revoluta


Japan (Amami Island, northern Ryukyu Islands): the large orange nuts or seeds are used as a famine or emergency food. The nuts grow in a cluster atop the stems of the plant. These may be mixed with other foods to stretch Unspecified area: a ‘sago’-type starch can be extracted from the stem and is used during times of food scarcity and famine. First, the trunk is de-barked and cut into small pieces. The chopped fragments are dried in the sun and then fermented. The stem (trunk) material is placed in a bamboo basket and leached many times with water. The water is caught in a wooden tub in which the starch is allowed to settle. them out.

Additional Information

Name Authority:
Chemical composition (fresh seeds): ca. 0.0164% to 0.220% of combined CH2O. After being crushed and dried in the sun, the seeds contained 0.250 to 0.327% of total CH2O of which more than 96% was free. Air-dried starch content was analyzed at 44.5%, with 9.15% crude protein. Composition of the trunk/stem is higher in male plants than in female plants, but varies in both according to season. Starch content in the male plant was observed to range (calculated to dry substance from 27% in October, to 61% in June, averaging 50% over the year. Female plant trunk/stems average 26% annually. In the female plant, trunk/stem starch content is affected by seed production. A toxic glucoside, cycasin, has been isolated from the seed kernels.

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