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Dwarf Palmetto Sabal minor


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Dwarf Palmetto
© Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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Family: Arecaceae, Palm view all from this family

Description A fan palm, perennial, usually small with subterranean trunk. Some individuals with larger features and well-developed aerial stems. Leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets. Each leaf 1.5-2 m. long, with 40 leaflets up to 80 cm. long, conjoined over half of this length. Flowers yellowish-white, 5 mm. across, produced in large compound panicles up to 2 m. long, extending out beyond the leaves. Fruit a black drupe 1-1.3 cm long containing a single seed.

Dimensions Height: 1 m. (rarely 3 m.)
Diameter: up to 30 cm.

Habitat Swamps (fresh & salt), Watersides (fresh).

Range Southeast, Plains, Florida, Texas.

Discussion Able to survive regions with hard winters; grown by gardeners and landscapers for this reason. One popular strain is 'McCurtain', named after McCurtain County, Oklahoma where they are native and tend to remain trunkless and smaller than those from warmer areas. Reportedly has been grown as far north as the New York metropolitan area on the east coast of the U.S. without special protection. Further north to New England, adequate protection is needed for the palm to survive through such harsh winters.

Comments Dwarf palmetto is a good accent plant for moist areas and will tolerate poor drainage. It is the most cold-tolerant Sabal and is similar to Sabal louisiana, though S. louisiana does not form a trunk.

Exposure Preference Shade to sun.

Flower April - June

Native Distribution E. Texas to Arkansas, e. to s. Florida & s.e. North Carolina

Site Preference Lowlands; swamps; river terraces; floodplains

Soil Preference Moist soils.