Ethan H. Freid
Sabal palmetto (Walter) Lodd. ex Schult. & Schult.f.
Sabal palmetto grows as an unbranched tree to 15 meters in height. The trunk is up to 70 centimeters wide typically with persistent petiole bases attached. The leaves are arranged spirally and are costaplamate (petiole extends into the leaf blade). The leaf blades are up to two meters in length and are semi plamate, recurved both features are due to the extended petiole.
The flowers are arranged in panicles up to two meters in length. The flowers are hermaphroditic and greenish white. The calyx has three sepals that are partially fused. The corolla has three petals. There are six stamens that have their filaments partially fused at their base. The carpel has three locules each forming a lobe. The fruit is a berry that is black at maturity
Sabal palmetto grows in and around ephemeral fresh water ponds in areas that are sandy or with exposed limestone rock.
Distribution in Bahamas/Globally
Sabal palmetto occurs throughout the Bahamian Archipelago, the Caribbean, and in North America from Florida to North Carolina.
Sabal palmetto is used as thatch for making baskets, roofing as well as things like brooms. The palm and were eaten by Native Americans either raw or dried and used like flour. The fruits are also edible. It is also an indicator of fresh water.