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Cabbage Palm, A Symbolic Tree of the South

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Sabal Palmetto Palm, A Favored Landscape Plant of the South
Drayton Hall Sabal Palm

cabbage palm, palmetto, sabal palm

Photo by Steve Nix
Sabal palms, also called cabbage and palmetto are monocotyledons with single seed leaves. The palmetto tree trunk grows more like grass than a typical tree trunk. Cabbage palms also do not have annual rings but grow segments of leaves at the top each year. The leaves are long with straight lines of parallel veins.

Capable of reaching 90 feet or more in the woods (when shaded or protected by surrounding trees) Sabal palmetto is usually seen at 40 to 50 feet in height. The palm is an amazingly sturdy native tree with a rough, fibrous trunk that is quite variable in shape, from straight and erect, to curved or leaning.

Palmetto is actually a name that comes from the Spanish word palmito or little palm. It was probably misnamed because the tree is often seen as a small tree in the understory.

A great example of the Sabal palmetto grows on the grounds of Drayton Hall near Charleston, South Carolina.

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