Natural Selection

By staff March 1, 2007

Cabbage Palm

What could be more appropriate for our state tree than the sturdy cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), a rugged native of Florida’s swamps and hammocks? Named for its edible central bud, which often appears as part of a salad and was eaten alone by pionners as “swamp cabbage,” the cabbage palm grows straight and tall—up to 60 feet—with a crown of leaves up to 18 feet wide. Those long, strong trunks sometimes serve as pilings in boat docks, while young fronds are used in many churches to make crosses for Palm Sunday.

In the spring, the cabbage palm begins sprouting clusters of fragrant white flowers, eventually yielding shiny black fruits.

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