Native Palms of Florida

Native Palms of Florida


  • Native Palms of Florida

Published Date

  • published 1940


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Palmettos: Palmettos are a variety of palms. The principal genera are
the sabal palmettos. There are about eighteen species of sabal palmettos native
to Florida, extending in some instances northward to the Carolinas and
westward to Tampa. Many are also found in tropical America.

Best known is the cabbage palmetto, or palm. It grows wild throughout
Florida east of St. Andrews Bay and northward along the coast as far as Cage
Hatteras, North Carolina. In some instances it attains a maximum height of
eighty feet and a diameter of two feet at the base of the trunk. It is called
"cabbage" palmetto because of the similarity of its bud to cabbage. Pioneers
ate the bud, and the fashionable dish, "heart of palm," is only the palmetto
cabbage of the early settlers under a different name.

One of the earliest references to the cabbage palm, or palmetto, is found
in a book by Jonathan Dickenson, who, with his shipwrecked English
companions, walked along the coastal sand dunes from Jupiter Island to St.
Augustine and St. Mary's River in 1699. Referring to the cabbage palmettos in
the region of the Halifax River near Daytona Beach, Dickenson stated: "being
nigh the shore where had been an Indian town, we went thither and found
some ripe berries on the palm shrubs."

Aborigines ate the berries of the cabbage palmetto and other native
palms, as well as the bud of the former. Early writers de-