Common Names: scrub palm, scrub palmetto
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Shrub Palm Drought Tolerant Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual or
Scrub palm is a small shrub-like palm whose trunk usually remains
underground. The fan-shaped leaves are about 3 ft (0.9 m) across and
costapalmate, which means that they are essentially palmate (fan
shaped) except that the petiole (leaf stem) extends part way through
the center of the leaf fan as a midrib. Scrub palm will grow up to
3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) tall with a spread of 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m). Under
garden conditions scrub palm is a more robust grower reaching to 6
ft (1.8 m) in height. The small white flowers are fragrant and held
in great numbers on a long stalk that does not extend beyond the
leaves. These are followed by 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) fleshy fruits that
turn black when ripe.
Scrub palm resembles saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), but the
latter has a true palmate leaf with no midrib. Another trait that
distinguishes saw palmetto from scrub palm are the small sawlike
teeth along the edges of the petiole which inspire its common name.
scrub palm seeds
The flower stalk of the scrub palm is held within the cluster of
foliage unlike its very similar cousin the bluestem palm (Sabal
minor) whose flower stalk extends beyond the leaves.
Scrub palm occurs naturally only on well-drained sandy ridges in
peninsular Florida. It is usually associated with saw palmetto,
scrubby oaks (Quercus spp.) and Florida rosemary (Ceratiola
ericoides). Scrub palm is a characteristic plant of the Florida
scrub, an endangered plant community that is restricted to Florida.
Once established, scrub palm is easy to maintain and can thrive in
the leanest sandy soils. It needs no supplemental watering and is
basically disease and pest-free.
Light: Full sun.
Moisture: Drought tolerant. Regular watering and light applications
of fertilizer accelerate growth.
Hardiness: Zones 8-10.
Propagation: By seed.
The compact scrub palm is a perfect low maintenance addition to
mixed borders, foundation plantings, and natural areas. Palms look
best when massed in the landscape. Use scrub palms as underplantings
and in front of clusters of larger palms and with grasses, yuccas
and similar "spikey" plants. Scrub palm is used extensively in
Florida xeriscaped landscapes, and is available from several native
Scrub palm is in the same genus as the stately cabbage palm (Sabal
palmetto), but its trunk and the growing bud tip remain below
ground, safe from fires that periodically sweep through the Florida
Scrub community. After total defoliation by fire, scrub palm begins
sprouting new leaves within 2 days.