Sabal minor, commonly known as the Dwarf Palmetto or Bush palmetto, is one of about 14 species of palmetto palm (Arecaceae, genus Sabal). It is native to the southeastern United States. In former times, it was said to be native as far north as southeastern Virginia, but its current known range begins about 10 miles south of the Virginia border on Monkey Island in Currituck County, North Carolina, and continues south to Florida. It is widespread along the gulf coast through Louisiana into eastern Texas north to Oklahoma.
Although it is mainly found in the southern states, it is one of the only palms that can stand somewhat cooler temperatures. It is one of the most frost-tolerant palms, surviving temperatures as low as −18°C (among North American palms, second only to the Needle Palm Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Its cold-hardiness is variable throughout its range with the Oklahoma native population believed by many to be the cold-hardiest population. This palm may be hardy to zone 6B.
The Dwarf Palmetto grows up to 1 m (rarely 3 m) in height, with a trunk up to 30 cm diameter. It is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets. Each leaf is 1.5–2 m long, with 40 leaflets up to 80 cm long, conjoined over half of this length. The flowers are yellowish-white, 5 mm across, produced in large compound panicles up to 2 m long, extending out beyond the leaves. The fruit is a black drupe 1–1.3 cm long containing a single seed.
Sabal minor is one of the most cold hardy palms, able to survive winters in warm temperate climates on most cases. Hardy to near 0 F/-18 C. Although native to the deep southern USA, Sabal minor is cultivated in small numbers as far north as Vancouver BC on the West Coast, and Connecticut/Long Island, New York on the East Coast of North America. Large healthy specimens have been growing since the 1960's in areas like Washington, DC (National Botanical garden), and in the lower Ohio Valley. There are several cultivars, including those from the Outer Banks of North Carolina (northernmost strains), and those from Oklahoma and Texas. One popular strain is 'McCurtain', named after McCurtain County, Oklahoma where they are native. These tend to remain trunkless and smaller than those from warmer areas.