PALMETTO

FAMILY: Arecaceae | GENUS: SABAL

TYPE
  • Trees
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Moderate Water

Plant Details

Sterling group of cold-hardy fan palms, unsurpassed for their versatility, adaptability, and ease of culture. They tolerate almost any soil and thrive in sun or light shade; they'll even take salt spray. Some have trunks, while others do not; all grow rather slowly. Tree types make excellent street, lawn, and shade trees; shrubby sorts are useful in understory plantings and naturalized areas. Mature plants bear large clusters of tiny flowers among the leaves, typically in summer.

S. causiarum. PUERTO RICAN HAT PALM. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Native to Puerto Rico. Young leaves are collected and woven into hats, hence the plant's common name. This is a stout, columnar tree that grows to 60ft. tall and about 12 ft. wide. Distinguished from other species by its smooth, massive gray trunk, which can reach 4 ft. in diameter. Leaves to 6ft. long, divided into 50 to 60 segments. Unlike other palmettos, this one drops its dead leaves quickly, and the bases of old leaves shed from the trunk. Hardy to 16F.

S. domingensis. HISPANIOLAN PALMETTO. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From the Caribbean. Ultimately reaches 80 ft. or taller, 20 ft. wide, with immense green fans 9 ft. across. Hardy to 10F.

S. etonia. SCRUB PALM. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Shrubby palm native to the dry, sandy Florida scrub. Usually trunkless; grows to 6 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide. Resembles S. minor, but leaves are smaller, with more and thinner segments. Hardy to 0F.

S. louisiana (S. 'Louisiana'). Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Form resembles that of S. palmetto, but plants grow slowly to only 12 ft. tall. Blooms in late spring and early summer. It produces fragrant flowers. Sometimes offered as S. minor 'Louisiana'.

S. mexicana (S. texana). TEXAS PALMETTO, OAXACA PALMETTO. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Native from Texas to Guatemala. Leaf stems hang on trunk in early life, then drop to show attractive, slender trunk. Grows 3050 ft. high, 12 ft. wide. Established trees are hard to transplant. Hardy to 18F.

S. minor. DWARF PALMETTO. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Shrubby palm native to the forest understory, scrublands, and alluvial floodplains of the Southeast. Slow growing to 6 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide. Usually trunkless; older specimens have a short, thick trunk. Blue-green, fan-shaped leaves to 3 ft. long; old leaves fold at base, hang down like closed umbrellas. Tolerates wet or dry soils and salt spray. One of the hardiest palms. Seedlings collected in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, have survived temperatures of 24F.

S. palmetto. CABBAGE PALMETTO. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Native to the hammocks, marshes, and Coastal Plains of the Southeast, from North Carolina to Florida. Grows slowly to 90 ft., with a dense, globular, 12- to 18-ft.-wide head formed by leaves 58 ft. across. Together with live oak (Quercus virginiana), cabbage palm helps define the urban character of Charleston, Savannah, and other coastal cities of the Old South. Excellent street or lawn tree; best tree for the beach. Tolerates wind, salt spray, and sand; can be planted right on dunes. Very easy to transplant. Huge, dormant specimens are often stacked up like cordwood, then trucked to new locations and plopped like telephone poles into deep, narrow holes. Hardy to 10F.

S. uresana. SONORAN PALMETTO. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Highly ornamental, surprisingly hardy Mexican species, deserving of a spot in more gardens. Straight-trunked tree grows to about 40 ft. tall and reaches 10 ft. across. Impressive leaves to 6 ft. long, in a striking silvery blue. Hardy to 10F.

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