Friends of the Port St Lucie Botanical Gardens
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Scrub Palmetto

​​​​​​Dwarf Palmetto

Sabal etonia

  • Common Name: Dwarf Palmetto
  • Scientific Name: Sabal etonia
  • Family Name: Arecaceae
  • Origin: Florida native
  • Height: 4’ – 6’
  • Width: 4’ – 6’
  • Growth: Slow
  • Zone: 9A - 11
  • Light Needs: Full sun to Partial shade
  • Salt Tolerance:  High
  • Soil/PH/Texture: Widely adaptable, especially well-drained sands.
  • Soil Moisture:
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Pests/Diseases: Palmetto weevils. Ganoderma.
  • Growing Conditions: Low maintenance, easy to grow - A clumping, essentially trunkless palm.
  • Characteristics: Each stem on this palm has approximately 12-30 leaves.  The trunk is mostly underground, very rarely erect. The leaves are fan-shaped palmate, in duplicate and deeply divided into several dozen segments that split at the tip.  The foliage is green to blue green in color, and waxy.  There is no crown shaft. The bisexual flower is white, and the blue-black fruit is about 1” in diameter.  As the fruit age, they smell like rancid butter. They are long-lived; likely well over 100 years.
  • Propagation: Seed, germinating in 2-3 months; remote germination. Seed source determines hardiness to cold.
  • Wildlife: Attracts butterflies and birds.
  • Facts: The fruits are the source of a prostate medicine widely used and often sold dry as an herbal remedy in health food stores. The flowers can be up to 3’ long and produce a fine honey, and beekeepers frequently move hives onto the pinelands when the saw palmettos begin to flower.  Nearly indistinguishable from the young cabbage palms.
  • Designer Considerations: It is used as a low shrub or ground cover. Saw Palmetto forms a conspicuous groundcover in pinelands along the southern coastal plain. With the interest in native plants, nursery production of saw palmetto has steadily increased. The blue-green forms are particularly prized for naturalistic landscapes.​​

Location