Dwarf Palmetto, Sabal Minor

Sabal minor is also known as dwarf palmetto. It is a fan palm that is native to rich soils, moist forests, ravines, flood plains, and bottom lands from North Carolina to Florida and as far west as Oklahoma and Texas. In a protected location, dwarf palmetto is considered winter hardy to USDA Zone 7. It grows best in part shade and prefers to be protected from winter winds. Established plants will often survive some zero-degree F. temperatures with winter protection. Dwarf palmetto rarely suckers and can be propagated by seed.

Dwarf palmetto is drought tolerant and moderately salt tolerant. It is rarely bothered by deer and has no serious insect or disease problems. Fruits are eaten by robins, raccoons, and many other birds and mammals. www.plants.ces.NCSU.edu

Dwarf palmetto is a small shrubby plant with a subterranean trunk, long smooth unarmed petioles and huge deeply-divided palmate leaves (each 1-to 5-feet tall and wide). Each leaf features narrow pointed segments in the shape of a fan. This palm typically grows to 6-feet tall and wide. Yellowish white flowers on compound panicles bloom in summer. The fruit is a single-seeded shiny black drupe.

The genus name is of unclear origin and meaning, but may have been derived from the Latin name for palmetto. Dwarf palmetto brings a tropical flair to part shade areas in the garden. Its evergreen foliage is unique and attractive in the winter. It is most often used as a specimen or in groups. www.Missouribotanicalgarden.org

Dwarf palmetto can be found in multiple spots in the Brunswick County Botanical Garden.

Information and photos by Jeanne Pavero