Sabal mauritiiformis

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Sabal (SAH-bahl)
Madeira. Photo by Dr. Jose Carvalho/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Sabal (SAH-bahl)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate with recurving leaf
Height: 25'-80' / 7.6m - 24.4m
Survivability index
Common names
Savannah Palm, Bay Palmetto, palma de guagara; (Panama) Carota; (Venezuela)

Habitat and Distribution

Sabal mauritiiformis is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras,
Medellin, Colombia. (1,500 Mts. or 5,000 feet above see level), Photo by Jeff Anderson.
Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Panamá, Trinidad-Tobago, and Venezuela. Common in disturbed areas and pastures.


Sabal mauritiiformis is a fan palm with solitary, slender stems, which is usually 15 to 20 metres (49 to 66 ft) tall and 15–20 centimetres (6–8 in) in diameter. Plants have about 10–25 leaves, each with 90–150 leaflets. The inflorescences, which are branched and longer than the leaves, bear pear-shaped to globose, black fruit. The fruit are 0.8–1.1 centimetres (0.3–0.4 in) in diameter. Editing by edric.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b

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Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Leaves used for thatch, make hats and crafts, and petioles are used for fencing.

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!

Diagnostic features: Some things about Yapa first.
1.) This palm, when seen in gardens around here, has two forms. Big and small. I have no clue why but one looks like a dwarf of the other. So.. size does not help split the two.

2.) Yapa has a leaf like Mauritiiformis but the two are way different upon close inspection. If you can see both together it will be obvious. I like to tell people that Yapa has Unevenly split and unevenly drooping leaflets. It also has the same color on top of the leaf as below. No matter what shade you call it. This is a dead give away!

3.) Yapa has a very rough trunk and does not hold old leaf bases with age. Note:The leaf basses that are held turn brown in less than a year. The trunk can have a "stepped" appearance from the old leaf scars. (watch out 'cause Mauritiiformis has this too, but is smoother between leaf scars.)...

S. Mauritiiformis:
1.) This palm can be huge if in a shady area. It also looks fantastic in the shade as this also means less wind to tear the leaves! In the full sun it will be much smaller but still can grow tall.

2.) The leaf is Bi-color. The top is a different color than the bottom. Forget about the semantics of what shade of blues (hey thats rock and roll) it is is flat out bi-color! Also the leaflets are split fairly evenly and they droop in a more constant length from the hastula. A much cleaner and architecturally pleasing look. Yapa look ratty in comparison.

3.) Mauritiiformis likes to hold its leaf bases. If not cut off they will break off a foot or so from the trunk (self cleaning if you will) and the leaf base will stay on AND remain green for years. Only Sabal I know that looks like this. (Ken Johnson)

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, 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.

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