Sabal palmetto

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Cabbage Palm, Sabal Palm

Arecaceae (Palmae)

Plant Specifics

Size:to 100 ft tall by 10 to 20 ft wide
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:White
Fruit Color:Brown,black
Phenology:Evergreen. Blooms spring-summer. Fruits ripen late summer-fall. Life span 100+ yrs (Nelson 2003)
Noted for:Interesting bark, Interesting foliage, Hurricane wind resistance


Recommended Uses:Specimen plant or in a hurricane resistant grove.
Considerations:Fronds and flower stalks fall. Seeds sprout readily and can require control. In southern part of the state, strangler figs can sprout in the boots and eventually overwhelm the palm.
Propagation:Can be transplanted as an adult, usually obtained from land being cleared. Source can be a conservation concern Also grows from seed. Plants larger than seedlings but too small to have a trunk are difficult to transplant.
Availability:Native nurseries, Quality nurseries, Specialty providers
Light: Full Sun,  Part Shade,  Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods)
Moisture Tolerance: Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Tolerant of occasional/brief inundation such as can occur in storm surges.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Moderate. Tolerant of salty wind and may get some salt spray. Exposure to salt spray would be uncommon (major storms).
Soil or other substrate:Loam, Sand
Soil pH:Adaptable



Seeds used by small mammals such as raccoons. Used by birds for nesting.

Dead palm fronds -- roosting habitat for yellow bats.  Their yellowish color blends in with the color of the fronds and makes them almost invisible. The dead palm fronds hanging down below the live leaves, serve as one of their favorite roost sites. It is almost impossible to see them since they hide so well and the color of their fur blends right in with the dead palm fronds.


Larval host plant for Monk Skipper (Asbolis capucinus) butterfly.

Pollinated by bees.

Native Habitats:Flatwoods, moist hammocks, swamps, river floodplains, ruderal

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
10A 10B 11 8A 8B 9A 9B 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures


Ethnobotany:The large growing tips can be eaten and are said to taste like cabbage, BUT harvesting the growing tip kills the tree.
General Comments:

Designated as the Florida State Tree. 

Trees on coastal islands in the Big Bend area are failing to reproduce due to sea level rise, and islands in the marshes are getting progressively smaller.

Does not produce wood with annual rings like most trees. It lives as a shrub for ten years or more until its trunk has achieved enough girth before it starts adding height. Its trunk will not add girth once this happens and palms do not have the ability to heal wounds or gouges in the trunk--so be careful with your palms.