Saw Palmetto

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Project Description

Saw Palmetto

Serenoa repens

Range/Geographical Distribution: Along the coast from South Carolina to Texas.

Habitat: Forests with well-drained soil. 

Description: An understory shrub with creeping, horizontal, multi-branched stems and green, fan-shaped leaves. The sharp spines on the petioles of the leaves give the saw-palmetto its common name.  

Size: The shrub form usually only reaches a height of seven feet but the tree form may reach 25 feet in height.

Breeding: Produces white flowers between April and July that grow from the leaf axils.  Fruits are green or yellow and ripen to blue or black.

Predators/Ecological Importance: Provides habitat for many birds, reptiles, and small mammals.  Black bears and white-tailed deer also eat the fruit.  Saw palmettos help with watershed protection and erosion control.

Conservation Status: No legal status.

Interesting Facts: Dried, ripe fruits are processed into a drug called serenoa that is used to treat bladder, prostate, and urethra infections. 

On the Coast: Large clumps of saw palmettos may be seen within coastal Georgia’s forests and barrier islands.

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