Serenoa repens

saw palmetto

Arecaceae (Palmae)

wildlife plant   wildlife plant   wildlife plant   wildlife plant

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Use this link to get more info about this plant from the USF Institute for Systematic Botany

Plant Specifics

Form: shrub
Life Span: long-lived perennial
Size: Height: 3-8 (15) ft    Width: 4-6 (10) ft
Flower Color: flower color      white
Fruit Color: fruit color      black
Phenology: evergreen
Noted for: Showy flowers, hurricane wind resistance, thorns, interesting foliage


Recommended Uses: Adaptive to many landscape uses: specimen plant, mass plantings, naturalistic settings.
Considerations: Be sure to plan for enough room for this spreading plant.
Propagation: Seed. Typically planted from nursery grown seedlings. Seeds are slow to sprout and initial growth is slow.
Availability: Native nurseries, FNPS plant sales, Seed
Light: light requirement   light requirement  
Moisture Tolerance:
Salt Tolerance: Moderately salt tolerant
Soil or other substrate: Sand, loam


wildlife plant   wildlife plant   wildlife plant   wildlife plant  
  • Used by monk skipper and palmetto skipper.
  • Palmetto berries are important bear food.
  • More than 100 bird species, 27 mammals, 25 amphibians, 61 reptiles, and countless insects use it as food and/or cover (Maehr and Layne 1996).

As Maehr and Layne summarize, “ If saw palmetto is not the plant species most highly used by Florida wildlife, it certainly is in close contention for that honor.”

Native Habitats: Mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, dry flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, scrub, hardwood hammock. Generally absent from cleared sites even after abandonment.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida

USDA Zones:

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures

Suitable to grow in:


The fan-shaped leaves have been widely used for thatch roofing and have been used for baskets and mats.

Other Comments:

There are two color morphs: green and silver. Silver is associated with the east coast, but may occur anywhere within the range.

Saw palmetto is exceedingly important to the fire ecology of Florida. Keeping saw palmetto dominated woodlands burned is essential both for ecology and safety. Overgrown saw palmetto thickets are severe fire hazards associated with catastrophic firestorms during dry windy weather. Tall palmetto understories can carry fires into the overstory and kill mature trees (Sackett 1975; Hough and Albini 1978)... exerpted from Duever, 2011.