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Saw palmetto
Serenoa repens

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Accent or specimen shrub. Informal hedges. Spiny barrier plantings.

Availability: Widely cultivated. Available in Lake Worth at Indian Trails Native Nursery (561-641-9488),at Amelia's SmartyPlants (561-540-6296), in Largo at Wilcox Nursery and Landscape (727-595-2073), and in Boynton Beach at Native Choice Nursery (561-756-4370).

Description: Large shrub or rarely a small tree. Trunks usually creeping along the ground but sometimes becoming erect, almost always branching and forming large patches. Leaves fan-shaped, stiff, with numerous sharp teeth on the stems (petiole), green or bluish-green.

Dimensions: About 4-6 feet in height; to 15 feet in the wild. Usually broader than tall.

Growth Rate: Very slow to slow.

Range: Southeastern United States south to the Monroe County Keys. Very rare in the upper Monroe County Keys and apparently very rare or absent in the middle Keys. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.

Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Pinelands, scrub and coastal uplands.

Soils: Moist to dry or seasonally wet, well-drained to moderately well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with or without humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Low to moderate; it can grow in nutrient poor soils or soils with some organic content.

Salt Water Tolerance: Moderately low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water, but tolerates short term inunation by salt water from storm surge with minimal damage.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Secondary line; tolerates significant salt wind without injury, but usually is somewhat protected.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: White or creamy white.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy when at peak. Fragrant.

Flowering Season: All year; peak in summer.

Fruit: Blue-black drupe. Summer-fall.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. Larval host plant for monk skipper (Asbolis capucinus) and palmetto skipper (Euphyes arpa) butterflies. Nectar plant for Bartram's scrub-hairstreak (Strymon acis), atala (Eumaes atala) and other butterflies. A variety of animals eat the fruits, including deer, bear and turkey.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from de-pulped seed. Scatter seeds on surface of soil and barely cover. Place container in light shade to full sun. Germination may take 6 weeks or more.

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: James Johnson, 2014
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

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