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Sabal minor - Bush Palmetto

Family:Palmae
Habit:Shrub
Height:3
Width:2
Synonyms:S. adansonii.
Range:South-eastern N. America - North Carolina to Florida.
Sabal minor (Bush Palmetto) is a Shrub which grows to a height of 3m and a width of 2m . It has a slow growth rate. It has a hardness rating of 8.
The flowers from this plant are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and they are pollinated by

Soil Information

Bush Palmetto will grow in light (sandy),medium (loamy),hard (clay) soil. It is / is important for the soil to be well drained.
The soil prefers the following PH / acid levels :
- pH of less than 6, Acidic soils
- pH between 6 and 8, Neutral soils
- pH greater than 8, Basic soils
Bush Palmetto prefers moist soils

Ideal Planting Locations

Bush Palmetto should not be planted in shady areas.

An understory shrub of broadleaved, mainly deciduous woodlands in low-lying river terrae areas and other sites where water at the roots is readily available[231].

Planting places suited to this plant described below.

Cultivation Details

Succeeds in most fertile moist but well-drained soils in a sheltered sunny position[188, 200, 231]. Although it prefers a humid atmosphere, this species is tolerant of arid atmospheres so long as it has plenty of moisture available at the roots[231]. This palm tolerates short-lived freezes down to about -10c and can be grown outdoors in the very mildest areas of the country[231]. Palms usually have deep penetrating root systems and generally establish best when planted out at a young stage. However, older plants are substantially more cold tolerant than juvenile plants[231]. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection, and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates[231]. This species can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and/or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced. It is important to stake the plant very firmly to prevent rock, and also to give it plenty of water until re-established - removing many of the leaves can also help[231]. Of prolific growth and vigour in its native environment, this species has proved to be difficult to establish and slow to grow in cultivation[231]. Small plants are especially slow to get away and are best container-grown until of a god size[231].

Edible Uses*

* See disclaimer
Edible Rating: 2/5
Fresh root slices have been baked and eaten as bread[257]. The fruit is a small dry berry up to 10mm in diameter, with a thin sweet flesh[229]. Although we have seen no other records of edibility for this species, the following uses are for the related S. palmetto. They quite probably also apply here[K]. Fruit - raw or cooked[2]. Sweet and pleasant[2]. A small dry berry up to 12mm in diameter, with a thin sweet flesh[229]. A nourishing food, though it is said to be an acquired taste[2]. Young leaves - raw or cooked[171]. An excellent food[2]. The large succulent leaf buds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable[82]. Sap - sweet[2].

Medicinal Uses*

* See disclaimer
Medicinal Rating: 1/5
The crushed, small root juice has been rubbed into sore eyes as a counterirritant[257]. A decoction of the dried root has been taken in the treatment of high blood pressure and kidney problems[257].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse at not less than 24c[188]. Stored seed is very slow to germinate. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing may shorten the germination time. Plants form a long tap-root some time before forming a shoot. Germination of fresh seed usually takes place in 3 - 4 months at 25c[138]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors.

Known Hazards

None known

Other Uses

The dried leaves are used occasionally for the thatched roofs of huts[229]. The following reports are for S. palmetto. They quite probably also apply to this species[K]. An excellent fibre is obtained from the leaf stalks[171]. The best quality is from young leaf stalks still in the bud, whilst coarser material is obtained from older leaves or the bases of old leaf stalks surrounding the bud[171]. The fibres are up to 50cm long, they are harvested commercially and used to make brushes, especially where these have to remain stiff in hot water or caustics[82, 171]. Pieces of the spongy bark of the stem are used as a substitute for scrubbing brushes[82]. The leaves are woven to make coarse hats, mats and baskets[82]. The roots contain about 10% tannin[171]. This has been harvested commercially in the past but there is not really enough tannin for profitable extraction[171]. Wood - light and soft[82]. The trunks are used to make wharf piles, whilst polished cross-sections of the trunk have been used as small table tops[82]. The wood is also largely manufactured into canes[82].

Cultivars

no recorded cultivars

References

The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Huxley. A.
Author: Huxley. A.
Rating:
Publisher : Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
Date of Publication : 1992

The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Elias. T.
Author: Elias. T.
Rating:
Publisher : A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
Date of Publication : 1980

Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas
Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J
Author: Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J
Rating: http://artemis.austincollege.edu/acad/bio/gdiggs/NCTXpdf.htm
Publisher : An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.
Date of Publication : 1999

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