Growing Saw Palmetto Palm Trees

Serenoa repens

The Saw Palmetto palm tree is one of the easiest to grow. Serenoa repens is native to the south-eastern states of the U.S. and is the genus from which saw palmetto extract is produced.

Silver and green forms of Serenoa repens growing on Ormond Beach.

I also have both forms growing wild in the woods behind my central Florida home.

Named after the 19th century American botanist, Sereno Watson, Serenoa repens has formed colonies all over the south-eastern United States. You will find it growing inland in bright woodlands as well as on the sunny coasts of Florida and the Carolinas.

Its tolerance to salt spray makes it one of the best palms to grow right on the beach.

It is drought tolerant as long as there is an underground water source. This makes it suitable for planting anywhere in Florida, the southernmost third of Georgia, the coasts of Alabama and South Carolina as these areas sit atop the Floridan Aquifer.

In Florida it is commonly called a scrub palm because it grows so prolifically in this type of ecosystem.

Silver Saw Palmetto palm growing at Heathcote Botanical Gardens.This Silver Saw Palmetto palm is growing outside the Pioneer House at Heathcote Botanical Gardens.
Silver saw palmetto lining a walk.

A hedge of silver saw palmetto lining a path at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Fl.

This palm is ornamental as well as useful in the landscape.

Its fan-shaped leaves can vary in color from bright green to silvery green to blue. I find the blue varieties to be the most striking.

The blue and silver forms will stand out in any planting.

Buy a 6′ Silver Saw Palmetto Palm – Medium Palm Tree

The usefulness of this palm comes from its clumping growth habit combined with its sharply toothed petioles. Used as a hedge, it forms a barrier which both 2 and 4 legged pests will be reluctant to cross.

The narrow, brown trunk of the scrub palm will usually creep along the ground or grow almost completely beneath it. It can reach a length of 9 feet.

Alligators near saw palmetto palms at the Brevard Zoo.

Alligators resting near saw palmetto palms at the Brevard Zoo.

In rare older plantings you may see a several feet of trunk above ground.

This is especially eye-catching.

Above ground trunk of a saw palmetto palm.

S. repens will adapt to nearly any type of soil. This palm may be sited in full sun to high shade. It will grow, very slowly, to a height and spread of 5-10 feet.

The Saw Palmettos in our yard were growing wild on the lot when we bought it. We have never watered or fed them. All we do is prune away any dead fronds each spring.

Keep Palmetto palm trees at least 30 feet from any building as they are flammable during prolonged dry weather. And be sure to put them where you want them because they are difficult to transplant once they have settled in.

Winter hardy in zones 8-11.

Silver Saw Palmetto – Medium Palm Tree
from: Real Palm Trees

Palmetto Palm Tree Fruit

Palmetto palm in bloom.

Each spring flower stalks arise from among the scrub palm’s leaves bearing multitudes of tiny cream colored blossoms. The flowers are bisexual and even a single plant will produce fertile seed.

Dark, edible berries follow these flowers. The genus Serenoa is renowned for the healing properties of these berries.

They are said to have a nutty flavor. I cannot verify this as I’ve never eaten one (I don’t like the way the fruit smells).

The fruit is strongly diuretic and encourages weight gain. It is often given to people who have lost too much weight because of an illness. They can eat the fresh or dried berries or drink a tea made by steeping 1 tablespoon of the dried berries in 1.5 cups of very hot water for 20 minutes.

Saw palm extract is most often thought of as a man’s tonic as it has been studied for and found to be effective in reducing an enlarged prostrate.

It is also believed to strengthen the neck of and disinfect the bladder. And according to The Encyclopedia Of Medicinal Plants it has a tonic effect on the male sex organ, increasing stamina and potency.

The book recommends that 1/2 a teaspoon of the herbal extract be taken up to 3 times per day in water for 6 weeks as a remedy for impotence and premature ejaculation.

What is not so commonly known about Saw palm berries is that they are estrogenic. Some women have used it to stimulate breast enlargement or to reduce excessive body hair growth.

I could not find studies to validate anything other than the reduction in enlarged prostrate size. I offer the information above in case you want to try the herb for some of these other uses, not as proof that it will work for these conditions.

Maximum International Prostate Health Prostate Support Formula, CapsulesDoctor’s Best Saw Palmetto Standardized Extract, 320mg, SoftgelsGNC Men’s Saw Palmetto Formula, Tablets

Nature’s Way Saw Palmetto Berries, Capsules, 180 ea

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