Serenoa repens

Photo by Shirley Denton. Photograph belongs to the photographer who allows use for FNPS purposes only. Please contact the photographer for all other uses.

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

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

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Saw Palmetto

Arecaceae (Palmae)

Plant Specifics

Size:Typically 3-8 (15) ft tall by 4-6 (10) ft wide
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:White
Fruit Color:Black
Phenology:Evergreen. Blooms spring and summer. Slow growing. Individual stems may be over 100 yrs. Clone forming. Clones may be thousands of years old.
Habitats:Mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, dry flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, scrub, hardwood hammock. Generally absent from cleared sites even after abandonment.


Recommended Uses:Adaptive to many landscape uses: specimen plant, mass plantings, naturalistic settings.
Light: Full Sun,  Part Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
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 Tolerance:Moderate. Tolerant of salty wind and may get some salt spray. Exposure to salt spray would be uncommon (major storms).
Soil/Substrate:Loam, Sand



Palmetto berries are important bear food.

More than 100 bird species, 27 mammals, 25 amphibians, 61 reptiles, and countless insects use it as food and/or cover (Maehr and Layne 1996).

As Maehr and Layne summarize, “ If saw palmetto is not the plant species most highly used by Florida wildlife, it certainly is in close contention for that honor.”

Larval host plant for monk skipper (Asbolis capucinus) and palmetto skipper (Euphyes arpa) butterflies.

Nectar plant for Bartram's scrub-hairstreak (Strymon acis), atala (Eumaes atala) and other butterflies.

Documented bees visiting the plant include Colletes banksi, C. brimleyi, C. mandibularis, C. rzudus, Colletes sp. A, Hylaeus graenicheri, Agaposternon splendens, Augochlora pura, Augochlorella aurata, Augochloropsis metallica, A. sumptuosa, Dialictus miniatulus, D. nymphalis, D. placidensis, D. tegularis, Evylaeus pectoralis, Halictus ligatus, Sphecodes heraclei, Coelioxys sayi, Dianthidium. floridiense, Megachile policaris, M. xylocopoides, Epeolus erigeronis, E. glabratus, E. zonatus, Apis mellifera, Bombus impatiens, B. pennsylvanicus, and Xylocopa virginica krombeini (Deyrup et al. 2002).  Another study documented 311 species of flower visitors including 121 species of bees, 117 species of flies, and 52 species of beetles (Deyrup and Deyrup 2012).

Saw palmetto also attracts Syrphid flies including the flower fly, Meromacrus acutus, which apparently is a saw palmetto specialist (John Lampkin, 2019)