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SABAL minor

Image of Sabal minor

Felder Rushing

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

SABAL minor

Plant Common Name

Bush Palmetto, Dwarf Palmetto, Little Blue Stem, Swamp Palmetto

General Description

This compact palm is considered a "semi-dwarf" because it often reaches no more than head height. It is native to the southern United States, from the Carolinas to Florida and across to Texas and is generally found swampy, shady locations. It is the northernmost naturally occurring palm in North America and has excellent cold hardiness that is surpassed only by the needle palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix. Habit varies; more westerly populations of this palmetto tend to grow an upright trunk, whereas those in the east remain shrubby and trunkless.

The big, fan-like fronds of dwarf palmetto are rounded and dull dark green. In summer, a stiff, upright, branched floral stem will rise above the fronds. These become dotted with tiny ivory flowers. Insects pollinate the blooms and small, dark fruits follow. The fruit stems are held well above the foliage clump.

Grow dwarf palmetto in partial sun to shade and slightly acid to alkaline soil that is moist or even wet. Fertile sand or loam is best, but clay soils are tolerated. Despite its preference for moist soil this palmetto will tolerate some drought. Once established it will not transplant well due to the deep taproot that anchors it.

This shrubby palmetto lends itself perfectly to a large foundations or mixed borders. It is particularly pretty planted beneath trees in moist ravines or on the edge of a water body. It looks best grown in groups among other subtropical ornamentals. The exceptional selection, 'Louisiana', has a stout trunk and showier leaves that are grayish blue-green.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    8'-18' / 2.4m - 5.5m

  • Width

    8'-18' / 2.4m - 5.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer

  • Native To

    United States, Southeastern United States, South-Central United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Poorly Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Chocolate, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Olive, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bog Garden, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes