these trees are cut down for commercial use with no plan of reforestation that
would safeguard the species, the day may not be far distant when they will
disappear from the United States.
The Seminole Indians have found the cabbage tree useful. They
obtained feed from the bud and from the berries they made molasses. When
hard pressed for breadstuffs, they beat from its foliage a kind of flour.
Sometimes they even got salt from its trunk through a process similar to that
used in getting potash from wood.
The tree bears a long cluster of small, greenish flowers which are
succeeded by black fruit the size of a pea. The peculiar distribution of the
cabbage tree throughout the Florida peninsula and northward along the coast to
Cape Hatteras is believed to be due to seeds dropped by migratory birds
throughout the centuries past, as this is the course the birds still follow.
It is adaptable to wet or dry ground and will grow in fresh or salt water.
The bud may be boiled, fried or eaten raw. The bud of young trees is also
favored for food by bears and other wild animals. Removal of the bud kills the
tree. The trunk is clothed during early life with "boots" or remains of decayed
leafstalks. As the tree grows older, those fall away, leaving a fairly smooth
Palmetto legs were extensively used by pioneers for building purposes.
Log houses were built of them and early forts were constructed