Palmetto tree: How to grow, Uses, Benefits, and More

palmetto tree

Palmetto tree, more commonly addressed as Sabal palmetto, cabbage palm, swamp cabbage, Caroline palmetto, and blue palmetto, etc., is one of the most popular palm varieties extensively used for home and business decor. 

This tree can also be maintained and groomed to grow as a bush or a shrub. If grown-up to their full height, Palmetto trees can grow up to ten to seventy feet in height and about six to eighteen feet in width.

In this article, we will discuss how to grow the Palmetto tree, varieties of Palmetto tree, and finally, the benefits and uses of the Palmetto tree.


This tree is native to the southeastern U.S. and the West Indies. It is not uncommon to find this tree lining the roads, houses, shopping complexes, and office buildings in South Carolina.
It is a very tall and tough tree. 

Although, it is essential to note that the size of the tree also depends on its variety and location. This tree is drought tolerant and is known for its cooling properties. If planted carefully by keeping in mind its location, this tree will keep your office or home cool throughout the hot summer season. 

It is a low-maintenance tree that can bear harsh weather conditions. 

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How to grow the Palmetto tree

saw palmetto palm tree

The most suitable and favorable season for growing the Palmetto tree would be during the hot season, where it receives ample sunlight for about six hours a day. It is advised to stake large trees in those areas where high winds are prominent and frequent. They grow best in well-drained soil. To raise a Palmetto tree successfully, follow the given steps-

1. Digging and planting the tree

  • In the course of the spring growing season, choose a Palmetto tree whose trunk is no less than six feet tall.
  • Then, start digging out a root ball as large as possible and make sure it is about eighteen inches from the trunk.
  • Now, cover the root ball in wet burlap to maintain its moisture. Now, place the plant and the soil you just dug out back to where it was.

2. Tree plantation

  • Dig out a hole for planting your tree about twice the diameter of the trunk. The desired depth is about the same size as the root ball.
  • Now, place the palm into the hole that you just dugout. Use the same soil from the original site to cover it.
  • After that, start digging out a three-inch ring about three feet away from the Palmetto tree for water retaining purposes.
  • Complete the process by filling the ring with some mulch or bark.
  • Finally, water it with about twenty to twenty-five gallons of water.

Necessary post plantation measures

It is imperative to take proper care of your tree to ensure its good growth. Some of the most basic and yet vital measures have been listed below-
  • Provide ample water to your tree. Around twenty to twenty-five gallons of water thrice a week would be right.
  • When your tree is about a month old, cut back the irrigation from thrice a week to twice a week.
  • If the plant seems to be healthy and mature in three months, it is not necessary to water it then.
  • To provide your tree with ample nutrition, it is necessary to add fertilizer.
  • After about one year from the day you planted the Palmetto tree, you may remove the stakes and burlaps.
  • It is advised to fertilize this tree from early April to late August. It would steer the tree clear of vulnerable new leaves in the winter season.
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Varieties of the Palmetto tree

There are several varieties of Palmetto palm trees varying in characteristics and functions. Some of the most prominent and common ones have been discussed below-

1. Cabbage palm

  • It is also known as Sabal palmetto.
  • Cabbage palm is the state tree of Florida, US.
  • This palm is also known as swamp palm.
  • The origins of the cabbage palm can be traced back to North America.
  • Generally, if properly nurtured, this variety can be up to eighty feet tall. Whereas in the home lawn and office décor, it is mostly twenty feet tall.

2. Belize thatch palm

  • Its scientific name is Sabal mauritiiformis.
  • In the sabal genus, the Belize thatch palm has been labeled as one of the fastest-growing palms.
  • Belize thatch palm has its origin in the Central and South American lands.
  • It is known for its large fronds.
  • In areas where there is no frost, Belize thatch palm can be as tall as sixty feet.

3. The Dwarf palmetto palm

  • It is also called minor sabal.
  • The Dwarf palmetto palm is labeled as the hardiest species.
  • This variety is generally a shrub. Due to this, it falls short compared to other types and grows only up to ten feet in height.
  • The fronds of this shrubby palm are about five feet in length.

4. Puerto Rico hat palm

  • Scientifically it has been christened as Sabal causiarum.
  • The Puerto Rico hat palm stands out from other varieties in the Sabal genus because of its smooth trunk.
  • Its height can go up to sixty feet.

Palmetto tree vs palm tree

palmetto tree vs palm tree

These two are very often assumed to be the same. However, there are several differences in their characteristics and functions that set the two apart. Some of these differences have been discussed below-

Height and width –

  • Palm trees are very tall and can reach up to eighty feet in height. On the other hand, palmetto trees are comparatively small. Their maximum height ranges from thirty to sixty feet.
  • The trunk of palm trees grows vertically. On the contrary, the trunk of Palmetto trees grows horizontally.

Shape and size of the leaves-

  • The palm tree leaves are large and can either be feather-like (pinnate) or fan-like (palmate) in shape. On the other hand, the leaves of a palmetto tree are generally fan-like (palmate) in condition. It means that many small leaflets club together to form a big leaf that resembles a fan. 
  • The size of the leaves of a palm tree ranges from eighteen to thirty-six inches. The size of the leaves of a palmetto tree is about 36 inches.


  • The fruit borne by a palm tree is big and heavy, like coconuts. On the contrary, the fruit borne by the palmetto tree is light and small, like berries.

Benefits and uses of the Palmetto tree

The saw palmetto palm tree bears fruit. When this fruit ripens, it is extensively used for medicinal purposes. Despite all these medical benefits, it is indispensable to consult a doctor to prevent any misdiagnosis or wrong medication.

Ranging from the house and office décor to producing daily utility products, the saw palmetto palm tree has a lot of properties that make it very versatile. 

This section will discuss the uses and benefits of the Palmetto tree concerning its valuable purposes, cooking purposes, decor, landscaping use, use in cooking, importance in wildlife, and finally, its medicinal uses and benefits.
  • It's used for the treatment of enlarged prostate.
  • It also helps in improving urinary function
  • It helps to boost hair growth, libido, and fertility.
  • It reduces inflammation and is known for its anticancer characteristics.
  • It can be taken as medicine either by simply eating the saw palmetto berries or steeping them to make tea.
  • The leaves of the palmetto tree are generally used as food and fodder in many regions.
  • Bread can be made out of the sweet flavored fruit borne by the tree.
  • Palmetto palm trees have also been an inspiration for many crafts like palmetto tree decals. These decals can be pasted on the back of your laptop, on your fridge and in your room, etc.
  • Palmetto tree jewelry and Pink Palmetto jewelry are also popular in South Carolina. Pink Palmetto is a boutique running in Lexington, SC.
  • Honeybees also harvest nectar from the saw palmetto tree and produce some fragrant honey.
  • It was mentioned earlier that palmettos trees are robust. Naturally, the leaves and branches are used for making thatched roofs for huts or animal shelters, etc.
  • The trunk of the tree is used to make tables and centerpieces. 
  • The fiber obtained from the trunk and leaves is used to make brushes.
  • Cabbage palmetto is known for producing fruits in bulk. These fruits are then eaten by wild animals and birds, including raccoons, robins, squirrels, woodpeckers, deer, bears, and crows, etc.
  • Saw the animals also use palmetto as a shelter or a habitat.


It would be correct to say that this tree is beneficial both for man and for the wild. It is not only rich in its uses; it is also rich in its significance. This tree holds a special status among the people of South Carolina. 

It is symbolic of the bold moves by Colonel Moultrie against the British forces when he was defending the Palmetto-log fort on Sullivan's Island back in 1776.

This tree is low maintenance and easy to grow. Therefore, it will require a little of your time and care and enrich your house or office in abundance.
Bhanu Prakash

Bhanu Prakash is the owner of Tree Website where he shares all the information regarding trees for free all over the world. Bhanu Prakash shares benefits of a tree along with all the other required content.

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