Sabal palmetto (Walter) Loddiges ex Schultes & Schultes f.. Phen: Jul; Oct-Nov. Hab: Maritime forests, marsh edges, and other near-coastal communities. Dist: Native from se. NC south to s. FL, west to w. Panhandle FL, and in the West Indies in Cuba and the Bahamas; planted beyond that range, especially on the Gulf Coast.
Origin/Endemic status: Native
Other Comments: This palm is the state tree of South Carolina and is common and conspicuous (both as a native tree and in plantings) along the South Carolina coast; it currently reaches its northern limit as a native species in Brunswick County, NC, where it is a conspicuous part of the forest on Smith Island complex (Bald Head Island, Middle Island, Bluff Island). It is planted elsewhere (and farther north) on the coast. Periodic disturbance by hurricanes helps maintain populations of Sabal palmetto, which survives winds and flooding that topple or kill Quercus virginiana. Curtis (1883) reports that "Cape Hatteras is, or was, the northern limit of this Palm… It is to be deeply regretted, however, that a reckless indifference to the future, which has been charged as a characteristic of Americans, is likely to efface, at no very distant time, every vestige of this interesting ornament of our coast. The inner portion of the young plant is very tender and palatable, somewhat resembling the Artichoke and Cabbage in taste (hence its name of Cabbage Tree), and is often taken for pickling, and the stock is ruined by the process. Thus for a pound or two of pickles, no better either than many other kinds, the growth of half a century is destroyed in a moment, and posterity left to the wretched inheritance of vain mourning for the loss of the greatest beauty of our maritime forest."
Synonymy: = Bah, FNA22, GW1, K1, K3, K4, RAB, WH3, Zona (1990), Zona (1997); = Corypha palmetto Walter; > Sabal jamesiana Small – S; > Sabal palmetto (Walter) Lodd. ex Schult. & Schult.f. – S