Sabal minor, commonly known as the dwarf palmetto, is a small species of palm. It is native to the deep southeastern and south-central United States and northeastern Mexico. It is naturally found in a diversity of habitats, including maritime forests, swamps, floodplains, and occasionally on drier sites. It is often found growing in calcareous marl soil. Sabal minor is one of the most frost and cold tolerant among North American palms.
This palm's native range spans on the Atlantic Coast from central Florida north to Monkey Island, North Carolina. On the Gulf Coast, it spans from central Florida to central Texas, Arkansas, north to southern Oklahoma, then south in the State of Nuevo León in Mexico.
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, before the needle palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix. It is leaf hardy to near 0 F/-17.8 C, and has been known to survive brief periods of -5 F temperatures. It is generally cultivated in subtropical and warm temperate climates, however it needs hot and humid summers to grow well.
In the United States, since the 1960s, cultivation has spread beyond the deep southern United States; Large healthy specimens have also been growing for several decades in areas like central Tennessee and the greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Sabal minor is cultivated along the East Coast from Florida to coastal Connecticut/Long Island, New York, and on the West Coast from Vancouver BC south to San Diego. It is a recommended horticultural plant by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. 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. Sabal minor is a popular landscape palm in coastal resort areas from Virginia Beach, VA to southern Texas.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- "Sabal minor". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- Sabal minor in Flora of North America
- "Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States by Alan Weakley".
- Care Sheet for Sabal minor or “Dwarf Palmetto” in Virginia Landscapes Fact and Care Sheet for Virginia Gardens