Sabal minor

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Sabal (SAH-bahl)
Carambeí, 2nd tableland of the State Paraná , south Brazil, Alt: 1030 m. "This tookan (tucano-de-bico-verde or green beak tookan - Ramphastos dicolorus), normally very shy is so fascinated by this fruits that it seems mesmerized and let us photograph him from a few meters distance!" Photo by Alberto Leonardo Barkema.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Sabal (SAH-bahl)
Corypha minor, Sabal adansonii, Sabal deeringiana, Sabal glabra, Sabal louisiana
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary, Often Acaulescent.
Leaf type: Costaalmate
Height: 2 to 7 feet
Survivability index
Common names
Dwarf Palmetto, Blue Palmetto

Habitat and Distribution

Sabal minor is found in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi,
"My friend who works on the Louisiana waterways is now always on the lookout for nice palms specimens to send me. He says this one is approx 12 feet high and trunk is approx 30" in diameter." Photo by Keith.
North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.


This is a small palm that ranges across the Coastal Southeast. In the shade of swamps, it has a subterranean trunk and leaves that grow to about two or three feet tall. When grown in a sunny garden, the leaves can grow several feet wide and the plant can develop a short trunk. It is identified by a very small, round fruit, a very short extension of the stalk (the costa) into the leaf blade, and a flower stalk that branches twice, less than those of any other Sabal species. It grows in sunny or shady, moist to fairly dry sites. It is reported to be salt tolerant. Most references recommend this palm for zone 7 and south. ( Editing by edric.


Sabal minor is likely the second hardiest known palm in the world after Rhapidophyllum hystrix. The Sabal minor 'Louisiana' variety is known for its short, fat trunk that can develop after 20 years of growth. The Sabal minor 'McCurtain' variety, native to McCurtain County in southeastern Oklahoma (Zone 7), is the hardiest ecotype of the species and established specimens can survive -20 degrees Celsius, albeit with major damage or complete defoliation.

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!

Sabal minor (Jacq.) Pers. dwarf palmetto or swamp palmetto has a solitary subterranean stem (rarely aboveground to 2 m) and 4–10 dark green leaves with a weak costa (Figure 4). Leaf segments are only joined a short distance near the base and have no filamentous fibers. Inflorescences are branched twice and extend beyond the leaves. S. minor is found on moist to wet alluvial soils from north central Florida to the Carolinas and west to Texas, typically as an understory species in temperate deciduous hardwood forests. The needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) grows in similar habitat but is distinguished by the long needles emanating from the leaf sheaths near the bud. (

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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