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Saw Palmetto Palm


Palm Walk Garden

​​Saw Palmetto Palm

Serenoa repens

  • ​Common name: Saw palmetto
  • Scientific name: Serenoa repens
  • Family name: Arecaceae
  • Origin: Southeastern United States – Florida native
  • Height: 5-10 ft
  • Width: 4-10 ft
  • Growth: Slow
  • Zone: 8-11
  • Light needs: Part sun – part shade
  • Salt tolerance: High
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers sandy soils, but can tolerate a range of soil types as long as they are well-drained. Acidic to alkaline soil (pH 5.0-7.5)
  • Moisture: Water regularly until established – once established, it is very drought tolerant and needs sparse watering. Can tolerate wet/humid conditions.
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Pests/Diseases: There are no pests/diseases of major concern. Sometimes caterpillars such as Batrachedra decoctor may chew on its leaves.
  • Growing conditions: Prefers to grow in a partly sunny area with sandy soil, but any well-drained soil will do. It can also be grown in coastal areas due to its high salt tolerance. Does not do well with being transplanted, so any transplanting should be done when the plant is young. This plant does especially well under partial tree cover, and is best planted outside rather than as an indoor plant.
  • Characteristics: This plant has multiple, clumping trunks that have a showy, scale-like pattern. These trunks may be seen to droop or grow along the ground, forming odd curves as the plant grows. This makes it difficult to locate the roots, as they may be far away from the leaves (hence why transplanting older saw palmettos is so difficult). The leaves are broad and fan-shaped, with pointed leaflets and spines along the edges. Most of the time the leaves are green, but they may be bluish or silvery. Flowers appear on three-foot-long stalks, and are small and yellow-white. The berries turn from yellow to black.
  • Propagation: By seed
  • Wildlife: The berries provide food for birds and mammals, and the flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Caterpillars may eat its leaves.
  • Facts: This plant is the only species in the genus Serenoa. Saw palmettos are very long lived – some specimens have been estimated to be over 700 years old. Honeybees use saw palmetto flowers as a nectar source, creating saw palmetto honey which is sold commercially.
  • Designer considerations: Most commonly used for mass plantings in partially shaded areas, such as underneath trees, to create ground cover.