Saw Palmetto: Serenoa Repens
The Saw palmetto (Serenoa Repens) is one of the most common Florida palm trees. The tropical plant is native to the Sunshine state where it occurs abundantly in nature.
The Serenoa Repens grows as an understory clumping shrub and creates dense thickets. It has creeping growth habit and grows horizontally along the ground.
The Serenoa Repens is a long-living plant that can live about 500-700 years. In wild, it provides food and cover for wildlife.
In landscaping it is often used as a groundcover, hedge or screen. It can be used as an indoor potted plant or container palm for a patio, deck or pool.
The berries of the saw palmetto have been used in alternative and complementary medicine as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and urinary tract infections (UTI). Florida is the biggest producer of this medicine. Medicine can come in different forms including tablets, powdered capsules, liquid tinctures and in a dried form (dry berries).
Scientific name: Serenoa Repens
Name: It gets its name because the leaf stems (petioles) are covered with very sharp, saw-like teeth.
Other names: Sabal Serrulatum. This name is often used in alternative medicine.
Origin: It is indigenous to the Southeastern United States. The Saw Palmetto can be found everywhere in Florida: along coasts, rivers, in hardwood hammocks and moist forests.
Growth rate: Slow
Trunk: The tropical plant forms multiple, sprawling horizontally, short, rough, covered with old leaf bases trunks. Often they are underground. Each trunk has from 15 to 20 leaves. It is a low growing palm that grows up only to a height of 3-6 feet.
Leaves: The leaves are large, stiff, fan-shaped, covered with a waxy film and sharp teeth on the petioles, green or silver in color. Usually they grow horizontally along the soil, but sometimes grow upright.
Indoor/Outdoor Use: Both
Light exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
Water requirements: Regular watering.
Drought toleration: Highly drought tolerant when established.
Salt toleration: High
Cold toleration: It is cold hardy to 10 F, can survive snow and ice.
Flowers: Male and female flowers appear on same plant in early summer. They are small, white and fragrant. The flowers occur on large, dense, branched clusters that emerge from the leaf bases.
Fruits: The fruits are redish to blackish when ripe. They ripen in the summer to fall. They are imporant source of food for Native Americans and wildlife. The berries have been used for medicinal purposes. They are rich in fatty acids, plant sterols and flavonoids.
Propagation: It is propagated from seed or through suckers. Germination may take several month.
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