|Sabal minor subsp. var.||Dwarf palmetto, Scrub palmetto|
Sabal minor, commonly known as the Dwarf Palmetto, is one of about 14 species of palmetto palm (Arecaceae, genus Sabal). It is native to the southeastern United States, ranging from Florida north to eastern North Carolina, and west to eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas. Although it is mainly found in the southern states, it is one of the only palms that can stand somewhat cooler temperatures, and can be found as north as southcentral Pennsylvania. It is one of the most frost tolerant palms, surviving temperatures as low as -18°C (among North American palms, second only to the Needle Palm Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Its cold-hardiness is variable throughout its range with the Oklahoma native population believed by many to be the cold-hardiest population.
The Dwarf Palmetto grows up to 1 m (rarely 3 m) in height, with a trunk up to 30 cm diameter. It is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets. Each leaf is 1.5-2 m long, with 40 leaflets up to 80 cm long, conjoined over half of this length. The flowers are yellowish-white, 5 mm across, produced in large compound panicles up to 2 m long, extending out beyond the leaves. The fruit is a black drupe 1-1.3 cm long containing a single seed.
Sabal minor is one of the few palms able to survive regions with hard winters. It is grown by gardeners and landscapers for this reason. Often those grown in cultivation are strains from the western end of its range in Oklahoma and Texas. One popular strain is 'McCurtain', named after McCurtain County, Oklahoma where they are native. These tend to remain trunkless and smaller than those from warmer areas. This palm has reportedly been grown as far north as the New York metropolitan area on the east coast of the U.S. without special protection. Further north to New England, adequate protection is needed for the palm to survive through such harsh winters.
- More information about this species can be found on the genus page.
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