Sago palms are highly diverse. Papua has the highest diversity; and Indonesia is the earliest sago area (Abbas et al. 2009, 2010). This diversity is the result of cross-pollination of the palm. Initially, there were described only five types of sago (four spiny types and one spineless); however, as observations carried out in the Moluccas Province continued, nine types of sago palms were described (Djoefrie 1999).
Random amplified polymorphism DNA (RAPD) analysis was used to identify the genetic links among sago palms. The results showed that the sago palms that originated in Papua are genetically linked to the sago from Kalimantan and the Sumatra Islands. The sago palm originally from Maluku is genetically correlated to the sago palm from Sulawesi Island, and the sago palm from Java is genetically related to those from other islands (Abbas et al. (2009). There was only one type of sago palm in Papua New Guinea, namely, Metroxylon sagu Rottb. (Kjaer et al. 2014). As they have the same genetic sequences (based on RAPD results), Hisajima in 1995, cited in Konuma (2014), reported that sago from Papua New Guinea spread to Thailand.
Local naming of sago palms is common in Indonesia. According to Djoefrie (1999) and Dewi et al. (2016), local people identify the palms by the presence or absence of spines, leaf color, bark, and bud color. A recent study showed that 12 accessions of sago palms in one district have wide ranging correlations and only 2 of 12 accessions are genetically correlated (Dewi et al. 2016).
Researchers have collected local names for sago varieties in various parts of Indonesia. Widjono et al. (2000) found 60 accessions of sago palms in Papua by the presence or absence of spines, bud color, leaf color, starch color, crown shape, stem diameter and long or short of spines, namely, Ana Apor, Ana Uwabu, Anangga Suanau, Ananggemo, Anaraumar Era, Anatuba Sianggono, Apaigo, Bibewo, Bibutu Mewi, Bosairo, Do Mboh, Edidao, Epesum, Epung Yepha, Fikta, Folio Hongleu, Folio Hongsay, Hanumbo, Hiyakhe, Hopholo Hongleu, Hopholo Hongsay, Igoto, Igoto Ogabarasu, Kambea, Kao, Manno Hongleu, Manno Hongsay, Marido, Merepo, Mongging, Okhu, Osokulu Hongleu, Osokulu Hongsay, Panne, Para Hongleu, Para Hongsay, Puy, Rondo Hongleu, Rondo Hongsay, Ruruna Hongleu, Ruruna Hongsay, Segago, To, Walisa Hongleu, Walisa Hongsay, Wanny Hongleu, Wanny Hongsay, and Wikuarawi. In addition, Dewi et al. (2016) found 12 accessions in Saifi by the shoots color, crown shape, trunk height, number of leaf, existence of spine, starch content, pith and starch color, West Papua—Fablen, Fafion, Failik, Fakattao, Fakreit, Falia, Fanke, Fanomik, Fasai, Fasampe, Fasinan, and Fasongka. According to Matanubun (2015), there are 23 accessions of sago palms in Sentani, Papua (13 with spines), namely, Phara (Phara Habou, Phara Hongsay, Phara Waliha), Mongging, Rondo (Rondo Hongsai, Rondo Honggeleu), Okhu, Pui, Yakhalobe, Ruruna, Ebhesum, Manno (Manno Fiho, Manno Parawakhe/Ohu), Yebha (Yebha Hongsai, Yebha Honggeleu, Ebhung Yebha), Osukhulu, Folo, Phane, Hobholo, Wani, Yakhe, and Hili. According to morphological characteristics, there are three types of sago palms in the Meranti Islands, namely, Sagu Sangka (rarely spiny), Sagu Bemban (having a spine), and sago palms with many spines (Novarianto et al. 2016). In Sorong, West Papua, there are five types of sago—Iwabinis, Iwayuluk, Iwarwo, Iwasnan, and Iwamuluk. According to Alfons and Bustaman in 2005, cited by Bintoro et al. (2013), Maluku has some five accessions of sago—Duri Rotan (Metroxylon microcanthum Mart. = M. sagu Rottb.), Ihur (M. sylvestre Mart. = M. sagu Rottb.), Makanaru (M. longispinum Mart. = M. sagu Rottb.), Molat (M. sagu Rottb.), and Tuni (M. rumphii Mart. = M. sagu Rottb.).
The genetic relationships of sago palms have been investigated by researchers. According to RAPD analysis, sago is classified into two main groups (A and B). Group A is divided into two subgroups (A1 and A2). Subgroup A1 consists of nine populations from Johor, eight from Sumatra and surrounding areas, one from Java, and two populations from Southwest Sulawesi. Subgroup A2 consists of three populations from Southwest Sulawesi and two from Mindanao, the Philippines. Group B consists of 12 populations from east Indonesia, 8 from the Seram, and 4 from the Ambon districts. Wakar accessions originated in Papua New Guinea, which is mapped out of the two main groups (Ehara et al. 2003).