| Sabal (SAH-bahl) |
Bronx Co. Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden, NY. Photo by Dr. Christine D. Bacon.
Habitat and DistributionSabal causiarum has a natural range that includes Puerto Rico, the island of
Stems: Solitary, massive, upright stems to 15 m tall and to 70 cm diameter. Leaf bases usually fall away quickly to leave a smooth gray stem with close rings. Leaves: Costapalmate, induplicate, twisted into several planes with a strongly arching costa, to 2 m wide. Leaf segments rigid, with numerous fibers along the segment margins. Petiole bases split. Flowers and fruits: Inflorescences exceeding the leaves in length, arching or pendulous, and branched to three orders. Flowers creamy white, bisexual. Ripe fruit black, spherical, 7-11 mm diameter. (lucidcentral.org) Editing by edric.
Sabal causiarum is a fan palm with solitary, very stout stems, which grows up to 10 metres (33 ft) tall and 35–70 centimetres (14–28 in) in diameter. Plants have 20–30 leaves, each with 60–120 leaflets. The inflorescences, which are branched, arching or pendulous, and longer than the leaves, bear globose, black fruit. The fruit are 0.7–1.1 centimetres (0.3–0.4 in) in diameter; fruit size and shape are the main characteristics by which this species differs from Sabal domingensis. Editing by edric.
Adaptable to different soil types but prefers very well drained soils. The only pest problems for this palm are leafhoppers and the ganoderma fungus. Light: Needs bright sunlight. Moisture: Tolerates dry conditions once established. Mature height: 50' Mature spread: 16'. Cold Hardiness Zone: 8b
Comments and Curiosities
This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!
Uses: As is reflected in both the common and scientific names of the species, the leaves of Sabal causiarum are used in the manufacture of hats. In 1901 Orator F. Cook described a hat-making industry centered in the village of Joyuda in Cabo Rojo, which made "large quantities" of hats from the leaves of this species. According to Andrew Henderson, this industry had declined considerably by the late 1900's. Leaves of the species are also used to make baskets, mats and hammocks, and older leaves for thatch. It is also planted as an ornamental or street tree due to its "massive, stately appearance."
Etymology: It is S. causiara as opposed to S. causiarum, by the way, according to the international laws of nomenclature where the feminine ending is required for the specific name if present in the generic name (as in S. bermudana, S. mexicana, S. uresana, S. etonia etc.). (Rare Palm Seeds.com)
Diagnostic features: Solitary, massive, upright, smooth gray stems with close leaf scar rings, costapalmate leaves twisted into several planes, petioles with light brown ligules and inflorescences longer than the leaves. Andrew Henderson and colleagues noted that Sabal maritima, S. causiarum and S. domingensis form a species complex that may constitute a single species.
The species are readily distinguished on the basis of fruit size and shape. Sabal domingensis has pyriform fruit, 11.5-14.1 (12.7 ± 0.7) mm in diameter and 11.0-14.4 (13.1 ± 1.0) mm high. Sabal causiarum has spherical or occasionally oblate-pyriform fruit, 7.1-10.8 (9.8 ± 0.5) mm in diameter and 7.5-10.4 (9.4 ± 0.7). Sabal maritima has oblate-pyriform to oblate-spherical fruit, 8.5-14.2 mm in diameter, 8.4 - 1 2.6 mm high. A similar size difference is found in the seeds: 8.0-10.4 mm in diameter, 5.1-7.1 mm high for S. domingensis versus 5.9-7.8 mm in diameter, 4.3-5.7 mm high for S. causiarum and 6.5-9.7mm in diameter, 4.5-6.2mm high, with a smooth (rarely some-what beaked) funicular remnant.
Another difference is that the petioles of S. maritima are densely covered with light-colored scales and appearing whitish or tan with a small, triangular to square-shape ligule at petiole base. S. maritima also has a rachillae with very crowded flowers, whereas the flowers are not crowded much in S. causiarum. Donald Hodel also mentions that Sabal causiarum can be distinguished from S. domingensis and S. causiarum by the presence of conspicuous, large, tan, flap-like ligules at petiole base. This characteristic is not mentioned in Scott Zona’s 1990 monograph of Sabal.
This palm is distinguished from other Sabals by its massive smooth gray trunk which can grow up to 4 ft (1.2 m) in diameter! Most Sabals retain their old leaf bases on the trunk, creating a textured crisscross or "cabbage leaf" pattern instead of a smooth trunk. The leaves of Puerto Rican hat palm are large, usually about 6 ft (1.8 m) long and just as wide. They are costapalmate, which means the petiole, or leaf stem, extends into the leaf. The leaves are deep green in color and are deeply divided to about half their length into several segments which may droop at the ends. The Puerto Rican hat palm forms a dense canopy of about 40 leaves. As the older leaves droop to 45-90 degree angles from the trunk, they turn brown, die and fall off. Many other Sabal species, like Florida's native cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) tend to retain a 'hula skirt' of dead leaves about its trunk. (floradata.com)
"Sabal causiarum is one of the biggest sabals with the largest fans. Sabal causiarum happens to also be one of the hardiest of the bunch, and will not sustain any leaf damage even with temperatures in the low 20's. Out of all the Sabals, causiarum has proven itself in the cooler West coast climate as it grows successfully even in Seattle. If you have to pick only one sabal to grow in Northern California, causiarum is probably your safest bet." (Dr. Axel kratel)
This sabal also happens to be one of the faster growing sabals in Southern California, making it a good choice for Northern California. Unfortunately, sabals are not widely planted in California as a whole, so it's hard to find specimens in Northern California. Dick Douglas had a large trunking specimen in Walnut Creek.
Sabal causiarum, which can grow up to 50 ft (15.2 m) in height, produces long flower stalks which hang out over the canopy. The numerous small flowers are white to cream in color. The round fruits are about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) in diameter and usually brown or black. This is a large palm similar in appearance to Sabal palmetto but with a massive trunk, two feet in diameter or more. This huge palm has small, rounded, somewhat flattened seeds. The common name refers to a use of its leaves in weaving hats and other useful products. It is salt tolerant and drought tolerant, even at a young age, but responds well to moisture. It is recommended for zone 8b south. (southeastgarden.com)
The Sabal causiarum, commonly known as the hat palm, is native to southwestern Puerto Rico; the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and adjacent Caribbean Islands. The common name; Puerto Rican Hat Palm comes from its turf of origin and indeed, the young leaves are harvested, dried and woven into hats and baskets. This is a very cold tolerant tree that has been reported to survive the mid teens temperature range with minimal leaf damage. The leaves are deep green with a blue-green tinge and costapalmate. The S. causiarum is one of the most striking of the Sabal species. It is distinguishable from other Sabals by the massive fat trunks. Trunks can grow as big as 4 feet in diameter. Mature trees with smooth trunks look very impressive as a solitary specimen or with a row of them lining a driveway creating living colonnade. The costapalmate leaves of the S. causiarum are usually 6 feet wide and 6 feet long, are deeply divided and droop at the tips. Costapalmate means that the petiole (leaf stem) extends through the center of the palmate leaf. A lush S. causiarum canopy will contain about 40 mature leaves at a single time.(palmsnc.org)
This stunning palm is one of the largest and fastest growing in the genus Sabal. It is native to the Caribbean Islands of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, where it is quite common in a number of different habitats. It sports a thick, smooth grey trunk and a dense crown of strongly costapalmate, bluish-green leaves. In cultivation it is as easy as any other Sabal and even though not quite as hardy to freezing temperatures as most of its cousins, it will withstand an occasional icing and will flourish in most tropical and warm temperate climates with hot summers. Once established, it is also hardy to drought and coastal conditions. (RPS.com)
The species was first described by American botanist Orator F. Cook as Inodes causiarum in 1901. The specific epithet, causiarum means "of hats"; the Latin word referred to "a wide-brimmed Macedonian hat". Cook erected the genus Inodes to incorporate members of the genus Sabal with upright trunks and leaves with well-developed midribs. Italian naturalist Odoardo Beccari transferred the species to Sabal and coined the current binomial, S. causiarum.
In 1903, German botanist Carl Lebrecht Udo Dammer described Inodes glauca, based on collections made near Peñuelas in Puerto Rico by Paul Sintenis. In 1931 Odoardo Beccari described Sabal haitensis based on collections made in Haiti. American botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey described Sabal questeliana in 1944, based on collections from Saint Barthélemy. All of these species are considered to be synonyms of S. causiarum.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- THE SAXOPHONE STYLE ROOT GROWTH (HEEL)
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.
Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.