Sabal miamiensis

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Sabal (SAH-bahl)
miamiensis (miami'-EN-sis)
56836af5a9cd9 Sabalmiamiensisleaf.jpg.517b4e40eec459935bdeb766ca0055d8.jpg
Gainsville, FL. 9/2015. Photo by Frank Glavin.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Sabal (SAH-bahl)
miamiensis (miami'-EN-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Sabal miamiensis was first described by botanist Scott Zona of Fairchild Tropical Gardens some years ago. This palm is essentially extinct in habitat, which was the coastal plain areas of South Broward and Dade counties in Southeast Florida.
H.P. Leu Gardens, Orlando, FL. 2007. Photo by iwan
As development over the 20th century came and went, this palm dwindled in numbers, as people thought it was a small palmetto. It can be distinguished from other Sabals by its compact crown with immensely costapalmate leaves which will actually overlap at the ends. The seeds are the largest I have seen of the entire genus and ovoid in shape. It is probably as cold hardy as S. palmetto but there is no evidence to back this up. It exists in only a few collectors gardens who happened to collect the plants before the habitat was developed. (Christian Faulkner)

This species is restricted to the oölitic limestone of the pine rocklands of Dade County (S. Zona 1985). The natural habitat of Sabal miamiensis has been urbanized, so this species is likely extinct. Despite differences in habitat, this species may not be distinct from S. etonia. ( - Zona, S. 1985. A new species of Sabal (Palmae) from Florida. Brittonia 37: 366--368.)


Stems subterranean. Leaves 3--6, yellow-green, strongly costapalmate; hastula narrowly triangular, 2.4--7.7 cm; segments filiferous, 50--85 ´ 2.8--3.0 cm; apices bifid2-cleft. Inflorescences paniculate, loosely branched with 3 orders of branching (not counting main inflorescence axis), horizontal-arching, about as long as leaves. Flowers 5--5.5 mm. Fruits black, shiny, oblate-spheroid, length 14.3--16.9 mm, diam. 15.7--19 mm; pericarp thick, fleshy. Seeds 6.2--6.7 mm, diam. 10.2--11 mm diam. ( - Zona, S. 1985. A new species of Sabal (Palmae) from Florida. Brittonia 37: 366--368.)

Understory palm with an underground stem. Leaves 3-6, evenly green, strongly costapalmate, filiferous or not; petiole 1.5-3.0 cm wide and 0.4-0.6 m long; hastula aclute,2.4-7.7 cm long, glabrous, margin flat or erect, entire; segments 35-70 per leaf, connate for ca. 2Oo/of their length, middle segment ca. 85 cm long, 2.8-3.0 cm wide, 0.2-0.3 mm thick, transverse commissures short and conspicuous, apex bifurcate for 21-38 cm. Inflorescence arcuate with 3 orders of branching, equal to or exceeding the leaves in length, sheathing bracts lepidote, rachillae l8-20 per branchlet, ca. 1.0 mm in diameter, l4-15 cm long, with ca. (3-)5(-7) flowers per cm. Flower 5.0-5.5 mm long, calyx urceolate-cupulate, strongly costate when dry, 1.6-2.0 mm long, I.5-2.0 mm wide, sinuses ca. 0.5 mm deep; petals obovate, noncostate when dry, membranous,3.T-4.7 mm long, 1.7-2.0 mm wide; stamens spreading, filaments 4.0-5.0 mm long, adnate to the corolla for 1.0-1.4 mm, anthers ca. 1.6 mm long and 0.7 mm wide; gynoecium 3.2-3.7 mm long, ovary 0.7-1,2 mm high, 0.8-1.1 mm in diameter. Fruit oblate, black, with a very thick pericarp, 15.7-19.0 mm in diameter, 14.3-16.9 mm high; seed oblate concave, 10.2-11.0 mm in diameter,6.2-6.7 mm high; embryo supraequatoria. ( - Dr. Scott Zona.) Editing by edric.

The taxonomic history of this species has been given elsewhere (Zona 1983, 1985). The presence of both dwarfed S. palmetto and S. etoniain south Florida undoubtedly has led to some confusion which in turn has contributed to the debate concerning the validity of this taxon. Undoubtedly, S. miamiensis is more closely related to S. etonia than was previously believed (Zona 1985). Anatomically, S. miamiensrs shares many features with S. etonia; although, S. etonia has more adaptations to arid environments. The morphological characteristics given previously (Zona 1985) are still useful in distinguishing the species, i.e., lax arching inflorescence with three orders of branching and large fruits and seeds. The fruits of S. miamienszsare 15.7-19.0 (16.9 + 1.1) mm in diameter, versus 9.0-15.4 (12.9 + 1.9) mm in S. etonia. Habitat differences are critical. ( - Dr. Scott Zona.)


Sabal miamiensis requires the same conditions as other Sabals: sun, heat, humidity and water. I don't think anyone knows how coldhardy it is, as it only grew in southern FL. But it is trunkless - like minor and most etonia. I would conservatively rate it hardy as palmetto and etonia, i.e., down to -10C but not as hardy as minor. My little etonia had an erect inflorescence as did my S. minor. My S. miamiensis has inflorescences that droop low and do not stand up. Germinate seeds in deep pots (10+ cm tall). (Cape Coral, FL. Margaret Price) Cold Hardiness Zone: 9a

Comments and Curiosities

S. miamiensis has bigger seeds - the largest of any FL Sabal.

Flowering spring--summer. Rocky calcareous soil of Miami pinelands; of conservation concern; 0--10 m; Fla. ( - Zona, S. 1985. A new species of Sabal (Palmae) from Florida. Brittonia 37: 366--368.)

This species is endemic to the Miami Pinelands of southern Florida, near sea level, on outcroppings of oolitic limestone known as the Everglades Keys. Sabal miamiensis occurs with Byrsonima lucida (Turcz.) P. Wilson, Guettarda scabra Vent., Metopium toxiferum (L.) Krug & IJrban, Pinus elliotlii Engelm. var. densa Little & Dorman, Quercus geminata Small, Serenoa repens (Bartram) Small, Tetrazygia bicolor (MilI.) Cogn., and Zamia pumila L., among others (Harper 1927). ( - Dr. Scott Zona.)

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). - Dr. Scott Zona. - Zona, S. 1985. A new species of Sabal (Palmae) from Florida. Brittonia 37: 366--368.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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