Sabal Palmetto, Cabbage Palm

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Sabal Palmetto, Cabbage Palm

  • Common Name: Sabal Palm (Other Common names: Sabal, Cabbage Palm, Palmetto Palm, Sabal Palm 'Lisa', Cabbage Palmetto, Carolina Palmetto, Blue Palmetto, Swamp Cabbage)
  • Scientific Name: Sabal palmetto (SAY-bal) (pahl-MET-oh)
  • Family Name: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee)
  • Origin: Native to the coastal regions of the South Eastern United States, Cuba and the Bahamas. The Sabal Palm is both Florida and South Carolina’s state tree.
  • Height: 30’ – 40’
  • Width: 12’ – 15’
  • Growth: The seedlings are slow growing and can take 15 – 30 years to show a trunk that is visible, but if grown in a nursery or in favorable conditions the trunk elongation can grow much quicker (up to 6 inches a year). As the palm matures the growth will slow to less than 1 inch a year.
  • Zone: 8B – 11
  • Light Needs: Partial shade to full sun.
  • Salt Tolerance: Will tolerate some salt spray on its foliage but does not like salt in their root zone. It is also known to naturalize.
  • Soil/PH/Texture: Neutral (6.6 – 7.3) to moderately alkaline (7.9 – 8.4).
  • Soil Moisture: Unknown
  • Drought Tolerant: This palm is drought and humidity tolerant and great to use for xeriscaping.
  • Pests/Diseases: The only real pest is the Palmetto Weevil (Rhynchophorus cruentatus) and only in stressed palms.  They are relatively disease resistant, but can be susceptible to three lethal diseases; Ganoderma butt rot, Thielaviopsis trunk rot, and Texas phoenix palm decline (TPPD). TPPD is spread solely by phloem-feeding insects, such as planthoppers or leafhoppers. It is currently confined primarily to several counties in West Central Florida, with Manatee, Sarasota, and Hillsborough Counties being the focal point.
  • Growing Conditions: They should be fertilized with an 8-2-12-4Mg fertilizer in which 100% of the N, K, and Mg is in controlled-release form, three times per year, or four times a year in South Florida, helping them keep their full 360° canopy of green leaves and correct nutrients to prevent deficiencies.
  • Characteristics: This evergreen have curved, costapalmate, fan-shaped leaves that have blades 3–4 feet long, petioles 3–6 feet long and a full, round canopy. The trunk is around 10–16 inches in diameter and up to 40 feet in height. Thousands of showy, tiny, 1”, creamy-white, fragrant flowers extend beyond the leaves in the canopy, on branched inflorescences that are produced in the late spring months. The fruits are black, about ¼ inch in diameter and produced late in the summer, fall to early winter.
  • Propagation: Not difficult to germinate by seed but should be planted when fresh for best germination. With correct moisture and higher temperatures of 86°F–95°F, germination can happen in as few as 18 days, and have a 50% final germination taking place within 33 days. Space 12-15 ft. apart.
  • Wildlife: Although the fruits contain little flesh on them, they are often consumed by raccoons, birds, and other animals that disperse the seeds. The flowers attract both bees and butterflies.
  • Facts: The "heart," of the cabbage palm can be harvested as a food and resembles a cabbage head in shape. This is where the “cabbage” name is from because it has a cabbage-like flavor and is the key ingredient for a "heart of palm salad" . The Native Americans used this as a food resource frequently, but it is also sad because once the bud is taken (or heart), it destroys and kills the palm, because it is the terminal bud and the only point at which the palm can grow, therefore without its bud, it is not able to replace old leaves and eventually dies.
  • Designer Considerations: Great as a street tree, beach front,  patios,  and used as an   ornamental or a small tree, and for xeriscaping, but it is not suitable for containers.