Flora and Fauna

The Palmettos of Deerfeld Island Park


Deerfield Island Park is home to many different trees ad shrubs. Two of the most common are the Sabal Palm and the Saw Palmetto.
Both are in the palmetto family, which are not really trees in the traditional sense. Both palm trees and palmettos are monocots, which means they do not produce trunks or main stems in layers the way oaks, pines and other woody trees do. Palm trees have no bark.
The main difference between palmettos and palms is size. ... Cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) is one species of palmetto that grows upright to about 30 feet tall. Palm tree trunks grow vertically, while the main stem of most palmetto species generally stay on or just below the ground and grow horizontally.


The Sabal Palm, also known as a cabbage palm, is the Florida State Tree. Florida designated the sabal palmetto palm (Sabal palmetto) as the official state tree in 1953. Also known as Cabbage palm and Swamp Cabbage, this is the plant that "hearts of palm" are obtained from using the tender hearts of the terminal bud or young leaf shoots. Harvesting of the terminal bud kills the tree. Hearts of palm have many layers (similar to leeks), and are a pale ivory color, with a very mild nutty flavor. They are used mostly in salads. Harvesting is no longer allowed in the State of Florida . It is a protected tree.
Sabal palmetto trunks appear in two different conditions, which can be confusing. When leaves die, the leaf bases typically persist for a while, creating a spiky, "basketweave" effect. These remnant leaf bases are called "bootjacks" or "boots", for short.


Saw palmetto is a fan palm, with the leaves that have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets. The petiole is armed with fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name.
Its ripe fruit is used to make medicine. Saw palmetto is best known for its use in decreasing symptoms of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy, BPH). According to many research studies, it is effective for this use. Saw palmetto is used for treating certain types of prostate infections.