50 Natives : South Carolina : Sabal palmetto (Cabbage Palm, Palmetto)

The state tree of South Carolina, Sabal palmetto, is making me long for warm sandy beaches.

Sabal palmetto grows up to 65 ft (20 m) in height, with a trunk up to 2 ft (60 cm) diameter. It is a fan palm, and each leaf is 5 to 6.5 ft (1.5-2 m) long. The flowers are yellowish-white and are produced in large compound panicles. It is extremely salt-tolerant and is often seen growing near the Atlantic coast.  Sabal palmetto is very cold-hardy, as it is able to survive short periods of temperatures as low as 7 °F (-14 °C) or lower. Cabbage Palm is about as hurricane-proof as a tree can be. They stand after hurricanes have blown over oaks and snapped pines. They adapt well to small cutouts in the sidewalk, and can even create shade if planted on 6 to 10 foot centers.  The dead leaves should be cleaned to eliminate a habitat for roaches and rats.

Floridata reports:

The large leaf buds of immature cabbage palms are used in southern cooking to make swamp cabbage and hearts of palm salad. Removal of the bud is lethal to the palm. We recommend that you NOT purchase nor eat hearts of palm for two reasons: 1) they’re not that tasty, having only a bland crunchiness to recommend them and 2) most commercially available canned product is obtained from wild stands of Sabal species in Mexico and Central America which is decimating those populations.

Wow, I didn’t know that…good thing I don’t love Hearts of Palm!

Sabal palm mosaic
1. Dwarf Palmetto, 2. Blooms on a Palm……., 3. Palmetto, 4. Palm Tree Trunk, 5. The Nine, 6. Palmetto, 7. Sabal palmetto & Trachycarpus fortunei, 8. Native NC Palms, 9. palmetto palm, 10. Palmetto palm, 11. Cabbage-tree palm frond, 12. Cabbage-tree palm flower

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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1 Comment

  1. Chris Heiler on January 26, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Rochelle,

    Have you seen the book by garden designer Ryan Gainey– “The Well-Set Table”?

    One of the sections highlights an event and tabletop he designed with hand-painted palmetto palm table cloths and dinnerware. It’s set on a beach in South Carolina.

    It’s an awesome book with a lot of inspiring photos and accessories Ryan has designed over the years.

    Chris Heiler
    Editor- LandscapeLeadership.com

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