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Sabal palmetto
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Coryphoideae
Tribe: Sabaleae
Genus: Sabal
Type species
Sabal adansonii Guers.[2]

Inodes O.F.Cook

Sabal is a genus of New World palms,[4] commonly known as palmettos. They are fan palms (subfamily Coryphoideae, tribe Sabaleae);[5] the leaves have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets; in some of the species, the leaflets are joined for up to half of their length. A variable portion of the leaf petiole may remain persistent on the trunk for many years after leaf fall leaving the trunk rough and spiky, but in some, the lower trunk loses these leaf bases and becomes smooth. The fruit is a drupe.[6]

Sabal species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Paysandisia archon.

The species are native to the subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, from the Gulf Coast/South Atlantic states in the Southeastern United States, south through the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America to Colombia and Venezuela.[7][8]


  1. Sabal bermudana L.H.Bailey – Bermuda palmetto (Bermuda)
  2. Sabal causiarum (O.F. Cook) Becc. – Puerto Rico hat palm (Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic)
  3. Sabal domingensis Becc.palma cana (Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti)
  4. Sabal etonia Swingle ex Nash – scrub palmetto (peninsular Florida, United States)
  5. Sabal gretheriae H.J.Quero.R. – Yucatán palmetto (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  6. Sabal maritima (Kunth) Burret (Jamaica and Cuba)
  7. Sabal mauritiiformis (H.Karst.) Griseb. & H.Wendl.palma de vaca (southern Mexico to northern Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad)
  8. Sabal mexicana Mart. – Mexican palmetto (southern Texas south through[Mexico to Nicaragua)
  9. Sabal minor (Jacq.) Pers. – dwarf palmetto (northeastern Mexico, Southeastern United States: Florida north to North Carolina, west to Texas)
  10. Sabal palmetto (Walter) Lodd. ex Schult. & Schult.f. – cabbage palmetto (Cuba, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Southeastern United States: Florida north to North Carolina, west to Texas)
  11. Sabal pumos (Kunth) Burret – royal palmetto (Guerrero, Michoacán, and Puebla, Mexico)
  12. Sabal rosei (O.F.Cook) Becc. (coast of northwestern Mexico)
  13. Sabal uresana Trel. – Sonoran palmetto (Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico)
  14. Sabal yapa C.Wright ex Becc.cana rata (Yucatán Peninsula, Belize, Cuba, and Guatemala)[9][10]
Fossil of S. major

Prehistoric taxa[edit]

Extinct species within this genus include:[11]

Formerly placed here[edit]


Fossil record[edit]

These plants lived from the Cretaceous to Quaternary (from 66 million to 12 thousand years ago). Fossils have been found in United States, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and France.[11] Leaf fossils of Sabal lamanonis have been recovered from rhyodacite tuff of Lower Miocene age in Southern Slovakia near the town of Lučenec.[14]


Arborescent species are often transplanted from natural stands into urban landscapes and are rarely grown in nurseries due to slow growth. Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants and because several species are relatively cold-hardy, can be grown farther north than most other palms. The central bud of Sabal palmetto is edible and, when cooked, is known as 'swamp cabbage'. Mature fronds are used as thatch and for weaving mats.

Symbolic use[edit]

A silhouette of a palmetto (S. palmetto) appears on the official flag of South Carolina.[15]

Two images of S. palmetto appear on the Florida state seal.

Sabal palmetto is the state tree of both Florida and South Carolina.

S. palmetto has been used as a sign of freedom and independence in the Southern United States since the beginning of the Revolutionary War and especially during secession in the American Civil War.


  1. ^ Michel Adanson (1763). Familles des plantes. 2. pp. 495, 599.
  2. ^ "Sabal Adans". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  3. ^ "Sabal Adans". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-10-15. Archived from the original on 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  4. ^ Zona, Scott (1990). "A monograph of Sabal (Arecaceae: Coryphoideae)". Aliso. 12: 583–666.
  5. ^ Dransfield, John; Uhl, Natalie W.; Asmussen, Conny B.; Baker, William J.; Harley, Madeline M.; Lewis, Carl E. (2005). "A new phylogenetic classification of the palm family, Arecaceae". Kew Bulletin. 60: 559–569.
  6. ^ "Sabal Adanson ex Guersent, Bulletin des Sciences, par la Societe Philomatique. 87: 205-206. 1804". Flora of North America. eFloras. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  7. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  8. ^ Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  9. ^ "Subordinate taxa of Sabal Adans". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  10. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Sabal". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  11. ^ a b Paleobiology Database
  12. ^ a b Manchester, Steven R. (1994). "Fruits and seeds of the Middle Eocene Nut Beds Flora, Clarno Formation, Oregon". Palaeontographica Americana. 58: 1–205.
  13. ^ Atlas of Florida Plants
  14. ^ Miočenna flóra z lokalit Kalonda a Mučin, Jana Kučerová, ACTA GEOLOGICA SLOVACA, ročnic 1, 1, 2009, str. 65-70.
  15. ^ Netstate, South Carolina State Flag

External links[edit]