Common Names: paurotis palm, Everglades palm, silver saw palm
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm For Wet, Boggy Areas Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual or
This attractive clumping palm punctuates the flat horizon of the
Everglades across South Florida. The Everglades palm can be seen
growing in great mounds that erupt from the edges of the small
islands that dot this "river of grass". Also know as paurotis palm,
it makes a beautiful and interesting landscape specimen.
The palmate leaves are light green with silvery undersides and
grow 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) in diameter. They are deeply divided into 1
in (2.5 cm) segments and are held on thin 3 ft (0.9 m) leafstems.
Rows of sharp orange teeth are arranged along the edges and inspire
another of the plant's common names, the silver saw palm.
About 25 leaves are arranged into crowns that sit above thin
stems that are only 3-4 in (7.6-10.2 cm) in diameter and are covered
with loose brown fiber. These slender stems can grow to 30 ft (9.1
m) high and lean away from one another creating attractive informal
clusters. These can become a very dense tangle of foliage if suckers
are not routinely trimmed. Paurotis palm blooms in late spring with
white flowers arranged on 4 ft (1.2 m) inflorescences that extend
past the leaves. The small fruits are 1/2 in (1.3 cm) in diameter.
The paurotis palm is native to the southern tip of Florida and the
Everglades. Also found in the West Indies, Cuba and parts of Central
America. Now a popular landscape item in all nearly frost-free
The is one of the few palms that is tolerant of standing water. I
think it looks best with dead leaves removed. May suffer "frizzletop",
a manganese deficiency so fertilize twice a year with slow release
fertilizer that contains micro-nutrients to prevent unsightliness.
Light: Prefers full sunlight but will tolerate some shade.
Moisture: Likes moisture (even wet feet) but will tolerate drought!
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. Is tolerant of frosts down to the mid
Propagation: By seeds that take about 2 to 3 months to germinate if
kept warm. Also by divisions of clumps (get out your picks, axes and
other tools of destruction because you're in for a battle!)
Well trimmed specimens look great in entryways - especially
impressive when floodlit at night (white bulbs only please, red or
blue will make your house look like the Flamingo Motor Court!)
Clumps look great occupying highway median and as accents in an
expanse of lawn. Everglades palm is fond of water so plant it at
lakeside where it will flourish and when reflected in the water your
viewing enjoyment is doubled. If provided adequate moisture, this
palm can be used to form screens or even impenetrable barriers as
the clumps mature and merge together. This makes a very tropical
alternative to a hedge of shrubs.
I like to anthropomorphize plants for no particular reason. I
associate royal palms (Roystonea regia) with country club guys in
tuxedos and Washingtonia palms with businessmen in three piece
suites, but the paurotis palm is partying surfers in tank top,
cutoffs and sandals. I enjoy this palm whenever I see it and
depending on its situation, each plant (clump) develops a unique
Small specimens are inexpensive and available at home and garden
centers in pots wherever they are hardy. Their versatility and
informal beauty make paurotis palm an appreciated addition however
they are used. Unlike many, this palm is easy to grow, tough and
This palm will eventually form a large clump. Use a lawnmower to
eliminate suckers while they are small.