Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Meet The "Saw Palmetto" - Serenoa repens
The Saw Palmetto - Serenoa repens - is the only species in the Serenoa genus. A relatively small Palm that reaches only 7-10 feet tall at maturity. It does not often grow with straight or singular trunks, but instead grows in low lying clumps or thickets. It is most common in the understory of Atlantic Coastal Forests or Sandy Coastal lands. It is considered to be one of the more hardy Palms with some specimens being 500-700 years old. It's Natural range is quite small, only covering one entire state (Florida), it then hugs the Gulf & Atlantic coasts in the far southern portions only of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. It is now found growing in most of the South Eastern United States, especially in Coastal areas but can be found as far inland as Arkansas.
Tha Saw Palmetto is a fan palm, it's leaves are made up of 20 (+/-) leaflets that originate from the petiole. The Petiole is covered with sharp teeth or spines, these spines are sharp enough to break human skin. The leaves are simple in form and bright green when grown inland and a more silver-white green in Coastal areas. Leaves can range in length from 40-80 inches, and the leaflets are 20-40 inches long. The fruit of the Saw Palmetto is a reddish-black. The fruit is very high in fatty acids and phytosterols, it is edible to both humans and animals. Saw Palmetto is also used as a supplement and can be bought in pill form. The supplement is rumored to help with some forms of Cancer but this has yet to be proven by any type of FDA research.
Image Citations (All Above): Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Recommended for hardiness zones 8-11. Here in Maryland, it can only be grown indoors and may only be available from your local nursery as a houseplant.