Sabal pumos

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Sabal (SAH-bahl)
pumos (POO-mohs)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Sabal (SAH-bahl)
pumos (POO-mohs)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Royal palmetto, Palma redonda

Habitat and Distribution

Mexico Central, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southwest. Endemic, confined to the Balsas Valley.
Sabal pumos, endemic species of the Balsas Depression, in the Zicuirán Infiernillo Biosphere Reserve, Mexico
Found on sandy soils in the transition zone between tropical deciduous forest and oak forest.


Slender, 15 m tall, trunk 13-35 cm gray smooth, leaves 15-25 evenly green, strongly costapalmate, filiferous, petioles 1.9-3.6 cm wide, 1-2 m long, hastula acute 5-15.2 cm long, glabrous or glabrescent, margin of hastula erect and undulate or occasionally involute, flat, or revolute and entire, segments 60-80 per leaf, connate for 30% of length, middle segment 80-150 cm long, 1.8-4.0 cm wide, .2-.3 mm thick, apex bifurcate for 20-30 cm, fruit oblate spheroidal, greenish brown-black, thick pericarp 18.5-27.8 mm diameter, 14.5-22.6 mm high, seed strongly oblate concave 11.8-18.8 mm in diameter 7.5-11.2 mm high. (Eric S. botanist, H.P. Lou Gardens, Orlando, FL.) Editing by edric.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b, Cold Tolerance: 25° F.

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!

Conservation: Vulnerable. Increasing agriculture is causing habitat loss.

S. pumos and S. rosei are VERY similar. You'll need fruits and seeds to see the difference. They are both beautiful palms, so whatever you have, it will be nice! (Dr. Scott Zona)

"Sabal pumos has huge seeds and the young leaves are undivided and quite attractive. It is growing in Augusta, GA and St. Marys, GA on the coast. Hails from NW Mexico and should work as well as Sabal rosei." (Joe Le Vert)

One of the few palmettos that seems to prefer somewhat higher altitudes and does not occur on the plains at sea level. In its native range in central Mexico, it is found at elevations between 600 and 1300 m (2000 and 4300 ft.), growing in a zone between dry deciduous forest and oak forest. Like many Sabal, it also thrives on cultivated land, where it is tolerated because its large leaves are useful for thatching. It is a large, imposing species with a big crown of strongly costapalmate leaves, supported by a comparatively slim trunk to 20 m (66 ft.) tall, which is covered with the old, split bases of fallen leaves in younger trees. One of the most obvious distinguishing characteristics of this palmetto is the size of its fruits and seeds, which are considerably larger than those of any other species in the genus. The fruits are edible with a date-like flavor. The Royal Palmetto adapts easily to cultivation and does well in most temperate climates. It is resistant to drought and, despite its home in the mountains, can take some coastal exposure. Botanically, Sabal pumos has many un-specialized features and may be a relic that has been conserved in the hills of central Mexico since the last ice age, when the cold forced many plants to retreat further south towards the tropics. (

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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