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.