Cabbage Palmetto

Different names Palmetto, cabbage palm, cabbage tree, sabal palm, blue palm. Ways to make Use of Ethno botanic: The Seminole, Houma, Choctaw, and other Native American peoples in the southeastern United States used cabbage palmetto for a wide range of functions. The white, crisp palm hearts were eaten either raw or cooked by boiling or steaming. The leaf buds are alleged to have a flavor like cabbage. Nevertheless, both of these food uses—the heart and the buds—result in the death of the plant. The palm fruits, which ripen in the fall, are little and mostly seed, but they are sweet with a slight bitter aftertaste. The seeds and berries were used for headaches and to lower fevers. The plants provided fiber and lumber used to construct dwellings, make food, paddles, drying frames for animal skins, potato drying mats, fish drags, fish poison, ball sticks, arrows and hunting dance staffs. Most Seminole homes were built from the cabbage palm. Logs would be used as poles for the framework of huts that were thatched with the fan-shaped leaves. Split logs were used for floors. Young fronds were bleached in the sun, cut into strips, and plaited to make long strips, which were used for lashing or sewn together to make baskets. The stiff midribs of the leaves were sometimes used to create ball sticks or racquets. Palmetto-thatched huts may still be found in Houma country Louisiana. Wildlife Fruits ripen in the late fall and are eaten by crows, mockingbirds, warblers, pileated and red bellied woodpeckers and squirrels. Palmetto fruits supply 10 % to 25% of the diet of raccoons and robins in the Southeast.

Description General: Palm family. Cabbage Palmetto is an evergreen palm tree that can reach 20m in height. The erect, unbranched trunk has grayish to brownish bark with distinctive pineapple-like markings where the old leaf stalks were attached. Medium-green, rigid, fanlike leaves are palmate compound and spread in all directions as they surface from the top of the trunk. The fans, often wider than they are long (2-3m wide), contain several long and pointed leaflets with prominent midribs. During June and July, abundant, small (.5cm), fragrant, white flowers are borne upon drooping, branched cluster. The berry-like fruits are small (1.5cm), shiny and black. Each fruit contains one seed.