Its only agency for distributing its seed is through animals seeking its fruit for
food, offering a very limited chance because of the armament which bristles
around the fruit cluster.
As a result of these limitations, the underground stem has found a way
of reproducing the plant, which usually produces promptly one or more
offshoots which lengthen to from six to eighteen inches to support a small palm
at the tip. The offshoot remains attached to the parent stalk until the latter
dies, and then spreads still further: but this process repeated many times would
not carry the palm over a very wide area.
The seeds are about the size of coffee berries, possessing a sweetish,
edible pulp that was used by Seminole Indians for food. The spines are six
inches long. First called the needle palm, or vegetable porcupine, it is also
known as "blue" or "creeping" palmetto. It ranges from Central Florida to
South Carolina, Alabama and in some instances Mississippi, growing mainly in
low, sandy woods and swamps, particularly river swamps, and frequently in the
limestone and fern grottoes of Florida.
The Silver Palm: The most graceful of the smaller Florida palms is the
silver, or Biscayne, palm of the Everglades, Cape Sable and the keys. This palm,
averaging about sixteen feet in height, was first known as the silver palmetto,
because of its silver-colored leaves. Ropes, baskets, and sometimes bread, are