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Serenoa repens

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
se-REN-oh-uh REE-penz
Description

A small fan palm that grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal areas, and as undergrowth in pine forests.  This plant is moderately salt tolerant. The slow-growing stems maybe 100 years old. it is clone forming with clones 1000's of years old. It will reach a height of up to 15 feet tall but usually grows 4-8 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. It has showy flowers in spring and summer with large drupes attractive to wildlife. Saw palmetto gets its name from the sawtooth-like spines on its stems. The stems often grow along the ground on mature specimens due to the weight of the foliage.

Saw palmetto is resistant to damage from hurricanes and can tolerate occasional flooding from storms. Those growing in poor sandy soils are slower growing than those more inland in sandy loam soils. 

Plant in full sun to part shade and give this plant enough room to spread. Use as a specimen plant, in mass plantings, or in naturalistic settings.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No significant problems

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#small tree#wildlife plant#native tree#salt tolerant#palm#low maintenance#food source wildlife#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#long lived#hurricane tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#small tree#wildlife plant#native tree#salt tolerant#palm#low maintenance#food source wildlife#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#long lived#hurricane tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Serenoa
    Species:
    repens
    Family:
    Arecaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used in herbal medicine
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    SE USA
    Distribution:
    SC, FL, LA
    Wildlife Value:
    Many animals enjoy the fruits. The plant is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species such as Batrachedra decoctor, which feeds exclusively on the plant. Bees use the pollen for making honey
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Dense
    Multi-trunked
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • 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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Gold/Yellow
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a yellowish drupe that matures to black in Aug through Oct. 0.5 to 1 inch across
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are yellowish-white, about 5 mm across, produced in dense compound panicles up to 3 feet long
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Shape:
    Palmatifid
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The compound leaves are up to 3 feet long with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 narrow pointed leaflets. The petiole has fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name. The leaves are light green in color inland, and silvery-white in coastal regions.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Green stems with sawtooth spines
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Mass Planting
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Humidity
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    Storm damage
    Wind