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Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto just after a fire , 2008-05-09.JPG

Saw Palmetto is a small and unusual native palm across the Southeast. It is unusual in that its trunk is partially underground and the rest of it is usually lying on the ground or raised slightly at an angle – often creating a tangle of trunks that can make walking through a “stand” of Saw Palmetto difficult. But this is not what makes a Saw Palmetto thicket difficult to traverse. Saw-tooth like spines extend from both edges of the stem of Saw Palmetto, making walking through a thicket in shorts a painful experience. But Saw Palmetto also has several good sides to it. It is tolerant of the frequent lightning-started fires in the Slash Pine/Longleaf Pine ecosystems and typically begins blooming soon after a fire. Its profusion of white blooms attracts honeybees and other insects and Saw Palmetto honey is excellent. Pollination of flowers results in olive-sized fruits in fall. These are favored by wildlife and are now used in medicines for treatment of prostate problems. The Saw Palmetto does have some pests of its own – including the Palmetto Weevil – at almost an inch long, the largest weevil in North America.