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Swamp Palmetto Sabal minor

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
SAY-bal MY-nor
Description

Dwarf palmetto is a small species of palm in the Arecaceae family growing 2'-10' in height. It is native to the deep southeastern and south-central United States and northeastern Mexico. North Carolina is its northernmost range. It is naturally found in a diversity of habitats, including maritime forests, swamps, floodplains, and occasionally on drier sites.  While it is naturally found along the coast, it can withstand up to zone 7 with adequate winter protection.  It is somewhat drought tolerant once established, has a slow growth rate and a moderate salt tolerance. This plant is seldom damaged by deer.

Flowers are fragrant and appear in summer. The leaves lack ribs and are in a fan-like form It does well as a specimen, in understory plantings and provides a tropical look for foundation plantings. The flowers attract pollinators and the ripe berries feed birds and small mammals. This palm grows very slowly in North Carolina so buy the size you want it to be.

Plant in moist to wet soils in full sun to partial shade. Dwarf palmetto can tolerate poorly drained soils and is a good choice for rain gardens.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.

Additional video for Sabal minor from the Native Plant Picks series from the North Carolina Sea Grant led Coastal Landscapes Initiative.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Savannah Silver'
'Savannah Silver'
Tags:
#evergreen#salt tolerant#low maintenance#winter interest#showy fruits#small mammals#highly beneficial coastal plants#NC native#deer resistant#swamps#large flowers#floodplain#fan shaped#black fruits#Braham Arboretum#native palm#food source fall#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#tropical feel#Audubon#coastal plant#boggy sites#wildlife friendly#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Savannah Silver'
'Savannah Silver'
Tags:
#evergreen#salt tolerant#low maintenance#winter interest#showy fruits#small mammals#highly beneficial coastal plants#NC native#deer resistant#swamps#large flowers#floodplain#fan shaped#black fruits#Braham Arboretum#native palm#food source fall#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#tropical feel#Audubon#coastal plant#boggy sites#wildlife friendly#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sabal
    Species:
    minor
    Family:
    Arecaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    S. Oklahoma to SE. U.S.A., Mexico
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are eaten by robins, raccoons, and many other birds and mammals.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is seldom damaged from deer. Drought tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Round <.5 inch fleshy shiny drupe with one seed. Green maturing to purple/black. Displays from August to November
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    May-July yellow-white to blue compound panicles up to 6' long
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Palmasect
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate fan-shaped simple deeply divided lobed suborbicular palmate leaf 1'-5' tall and wide and attractive in the winter. Petioles are smooth and long.
  • Bark:
    Bark Description:
    The trunk of this plant is partially subterranean.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stem is underground
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Pond
    Pool/Hardscape
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Foundation Planting
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Salt
    Wet Soil