sago [key] [Malay], edible starch extracted from the pithlike center of several E Asian palms (chiefly Metroxylon sagu) or sometimes of cycads. The starch is an important item in the diet in some parts of E Asia and is exported for use in foods (e.g., puddings) and for stiffening textiles. Sago is obtained by grinding the stem content of a filled mature sago palm that is beginning to flower into powder and washing the starch free. For local use it is pulverized, but for the market it is usually sieved and then heated to form granules. The florists' sago palm is not a true palm but a cycad of the American genus Zamia. Z. floridana, called wild sago or coontie, yields Florida arrowroot.
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