Common Names: saw palmetto
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Drought Tolerant Has Medicinal Uses Has evergreen foliage Has
Unusual or Interesting Foliage
Saw palmetto is a small hardy fan palm whose stem usually remains
below ground or runs just along the surface. In some cases, it
develops an erect or arching trunk that may lift the whorl of leaves
2-8 ft (0.6-2.4 m) above ground. The palmate leaves are 2-3 ft
(0.6-0.9 m) across and green or bluish green. The cluster of leaves
gets about 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) high with a similar spread. In the
wild, saw palmetto often grows in clumps 20 ft (6 m) or more in
diameter. The petioles (leaf stems) are about 2 ft (0.6 m) long and
sharply saw-toothed. The fruits are round, black when ripe and about
an inch in diameter. An especially attractive form with silvery-blue
leaves occurs along the Atlantic coast in Florida and is the form
most often grown in gardens and landscapes.
This silvery-blue variety is found in populations along Florida's
Saw palmetto occurs naturally on the coastal plain from South
Carolina to southeastern Louisiana. It grows in a wide range of
habitats from seaside sand dunes and dry scrub to moist forests,
pine flatwoods and even wetlands. Saw palmetto can be the dominant
ground cover in certain southeastern pine forests, sometimes
covering hundreds of acres.
Once established, saw palmetto is virtually maintenance-free.
Light: Prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial sun.
Moisture: Tolerates drought but can also tolerate moist soils.
Hardiness: Hardy in Zones 8-10.
Propagation: By seed.
A clump of native saw palmetto at Jack's Floridune.
Saw palmetto is a beautiful little palm and deserves a place in the
ornamental landscape with the silver form being especially
attractive. Plant saw palmettos in front of clumps of larger palms,
or even underneath large palms. They look good massed in clumps in
mixed borders, or as framing hedges. Use as accents to trees or in
foundation plantings. Do not plant this palm near walkways or where
children play as the sharp sawtooth leaf stems can seriously cut
Saw palmetto berries ripen in late fall and early winter in
The berries of saw palmetto are used as a treatment for benign
prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostate gland. They are also used
as a diuretic to tone the bladder, improve urinary flow, and
decrease urinary frequency. They may help prevent prostate cancer.
Saw palmetto berries have always been a valuable food source for
wildlife. As their effectiveness as a treatment for various human
disorders is confirmed their value has steadily increased. Wild
creatures must now compete with human collectors for the saw
palmetto fruits. Florida landowners are reporting cases of "saw
palmetto rustling" where gangs of pickers move in and strip and area
of fruit within a few hours.