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Cabbage Palm - Sabal palmetto
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Written by Real Palm Trees   

Cabbage Palm

The cold hardy Cabbage Palm tree is widely used for landscaping all through out Florida and other southern states, including; Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, and California. The highly tolerant Cabbage Palm tree makes for a great palm, due to its durability and its drought tolerance. The Cabbage Palm has gain popularity because it is very durable and will tolerate a wide variety of soil and weather conditions. Whether it be standing water, high winds, salt water, or salt water winds. The Cabbage Palm will thrive in any condition. Floridas and South Carolina state tree is the Cabbage Palm, which is flown on their state flags as well. This palm tree of medium stature, is seen growing in the wild up to 80 feet, but is more commonly seen lining the sidewalks or large parking lots at 30-40 feet tall. This palm tree will not only enhance the look of any commercial or residential area, but will also create a tropical feel to any environment. The beautiful round shaped crown of the Cabbage Palm will stand out and will serve for multiple uses for outdoor applications. The best aspect of the Cabbage Palm is that, the Cabbage Palm very rarely reaches heights over 50-60 ft. Commercial and residential developments look for this, when designing with palm trees. Maintaining palm trees should be simple and easy. Palm trees have been living for millions of years with out human care. The Cabbage Palms is very much maintenance free, giving you something less to worry about. Occasional watering and pruning is recommended for optimal results. Another reason for choosing the Cabbage Palm in your next design is because there is little to no shock when transplanting. So make your home look like a tropical oasis while still having the welcome home feeling. I would definitely include this species in your landscape design. The Cabbage Palm is also great for the pool area, patio, or even a Zen garden oasis. Below I have listed a few "Do It Yourself" tips for planting a palm tree in your next interior design project!

DIY - Landscape Design

Designing with Cabbage Palms are the way to go. First they are inexpensive always readily available and makes the statement you are looking for. Start by contemplating where you will want your cabbage palm trees to go. When you are designing with palm trees that will grow up to 50 feet, it is best to know where to place them. One reason for this is because you do not want a 50 foot palm tree right in front of your house; this will take away from the curb appeal and devalue your home. This palm tree will tolerate many different soils and environments. So placement will be easier, since this palm can do well in shade and in full sun. In my do it yourself design with the cabbage palm I would place a few along the side of the house, spaced from the house about 5-6 feet. I would also space out the Cabbage Palm trees about 5-10 feet from each other to give them room to grow. Once I have correctly placed the palm trees in their location, I would water them and add fertilizer to maximize health. Next I would add other plants and mulch around the palm tree to add to the appeal to the landscape. Mulching is important and will not only improve the over all appearance of your home or business, but will also protect the palm tree as well. There are very little difficulties when designing with palm trees. In general, where ever a palm tree is placed, whether it be by the pool area, the garden, the patio or in a corner; a palm tree will still have the same effect of giving you a piece of the tropics.

DIY - Indoor Design

The tropical Cabbage Palm is usually not used much for interior designing. How ever, the Cabbage Palm is still considered an indoor palm. Given the right environment, any palm can flourish in an interior space. For an interior design concept, the main goal would be to find the place your palm tree will go. With the spot picked, you can further decide what pot would fit that area and size of the palm needed. Most likely the palm tree would have to be by a window or an area that receives much natural lighting. The Cabbage Palm thrives in warm conditions but will tolerate other such conditions. There are infinite variations of pots you can choose to accent the Cabbage Palm tree. Some variations to consider are the type of material, color(s), pattern(s), and size. If the pot will be visible in your design, than choosing the right pot is critical for your overall appearance of the Cabbage Palm and your interior design. After choosing the right pot that fits your interior design, place the pot and palm in the location and provide about 1 to 2 foot radius spacing around the Cabbage Palm. Try to prevent the leaves from touching any other objects, this will help to reduce browning. I hope these ideas help you on your next interior design encounter with the Cabbage Palm!

Please, feel free to comment on this article. Any new design ideas, comments, or appreciation is welcomed.

Cabbage Palm Overview:

Cabbage Palm Naming Conventions:

Palm Name: Cabbage Palm - (Kab-bij) (Palm)
Common Name(s): Cabbage Palm, Sabal Palm, Carolina Palmetto, Sabal palmetto, Cabbage Palmetto, Scrub Palm
Botanical Name: Sabal palmetto - (SAY-bal) (pahl-MET-oh)
Synonym(s): Inodes Palmetto

Cabbage Palm Plant Classification:

Linnaean Taxonomy SystemLinnaean Taxonomy System:

Superdomain: Neomura Palm Tree Information Theoretical Group
Domain: Eukaryota - (Eu-kary-ote) Palm Tree Information 4 Organisms - Animals, plants, fungi, and protists
Kingdom: Plantae (Plants) Palm Tree Information 3 Groups - Streptophyta (Green Plants), Rhodophyta (Red Algae ), and Glaucophyta (Green Microscopic Algae)
Subkingdom: Streptophyta (also known as Streptophytes, Metaphytes, or Viridiplantae) Palm Tree Information Green Plants
Super Division: Embryophyta (also known as Embryophytes) Palm Tree Information Land Plants
Division: Tracheophyta (also known as Tracheophytes or Tracheobionta) Palm Tree Information Vascular plants - higher plant life
Division: Spermatophyta (also known as Spermatophytes or Phanerogams) Palm Tree Information Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta (also commonly known as Angiosperms) Palm Tree Information Flowering plants
Plant Class: Monocotyledons or Monocots (also known as Monocotyledoneae or Monocotyledones) Palm Tree Information One embryonic seed leaf
Palm Family: Arecaceae - (ar-ek-AY-see-ee)
Palm Genus: Sabal - (SAY-bal)
Palm Species: palmetto - (pahl-MET-oh)

Cabbage Palm General Description:

The Sabal Palmetto or better known as the Cabbage Palm is one of many of the cold hardy palm trees belonging to the genus Sabal. Some include: Sabal bermudana, Sabal causiarum, Sabal etonia, Sabal mexicana, Sabal minor, Sabal miamiensis and Sabal Palmetto. The word Sabal is a new Latin genus name. Some say the meaning of Sabal means American dwarf fan palms. The species name Palmetto, comes from the Spanish word palmito or commonly referred to as little palm. This is because many of the Sabal family are seen in vast numbers as an understory palm or in a shrub like form. It is also likely that the Spanish misnamed the Cabbage Palm due to the smallness of most species seen. The origin of the Cabbage Palm tree is somewhat controversial. Its native to the southeastern United States, the Bahamas, and Cuba. Known for its stately appearance, the cabbage palm tree has a history of uses. The state tree of South Carolina and Florida is the Sabal palmetto, and is also seen waving through the air, as part of their state flags. The walls of a South Carolina fort were made out of the Sabal palmetto trunks as logs. The fort was so strong; it protected the soldiers from the cannonballs fired from the British warships. As a result the Cabbage Palm was placed on the South Carolina flag in honor of Moultrie's defense against the British in June 1776. The Cabbage Palm tree was adopted by Florida as a symbol of Floridas coasts and native landscape. It was among three trees suggested to represent the sunshine state. Out of the three trees, only one was a palm tree, the Cabbage Palm tree. For tourism purposes, the Cabbage Palm was elected and made the official state tree. The native habitat for the Cabbage Palm lies in several of Floridas ecosystems. Some include: south Florida Flatwoods, pine Flatwoods, swamps, pastures, upland hardwoods, coastal marshes, and wet prairies. The Cabbage Palm can be seen growing up to 80 ft in the wild, but the average height of a cabbage palm is 30-60 feet. Its trunk is 10 to 16 inches in diameter and covered with old leaf bases, that will stay on until the palm gets rather old. The leaf bases are arranged quiet uniform in a criss-cross pattern. The deep olive green leaves are 3 to 4 feet wide and deeply costapalmate (shaped like the palm of a hand but with a leaf midrib in the center). The trunk also has no crownshaft and with age the surface will become smooth and grey in color. The spread or crown of the cabbage palm is roughly 15-25 feet in diameter. Protruding from the crown of Costapalmate leaves, are the flourishing branches of flowers. Cabbage Palm bears creamy white flowers on a long branched inflorescence that protrudes from within the crown. The small fruit from the Cabbage Palm is black, containing a single seed, roughly 1/4 in diameter. Transplanting a Cabbage Palm tree is easy and does not go through a transplant shock. Feeder Roots of the Cabbage Palm tree will die but will re-grow almost immediately as soon as proper care is taken. Maintenance of the Cabbage Palm tree is very easy and very adaptable. The Cabbage Palm is known to tolerate drought, standing water and brackish water. Even though this palm is drought-tolerant, it thrives on regular light watering and regular feeding. It is highly tolerant of salt winds, but not saltwater flooding. Nutrient, disease, and pest problems are rare. Some uses of the Cabbage Palm are sidewalk cut outs, coastal planting, xeriscaping, large parking lots, buffer strips around parking lots and residential landscaping. It also serves as a canopy for lower growing plants.

Cabbage Palm Habitat:

Palm Continent of Origin: North America
Palm Country of Origin: United States, Cuba, and the Bahamas
Indoor/ Outdoor: Both
Palm North America Outdoor Hardiness: USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F) to USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)
Palm Europe/ UK Outdoor Hardiness: Europe Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F) to Europe Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)
Palm Cold Toleration: Approximately 10 - 40F

Cabbage Palm Tree Physical Appearance:

Palm Height: 30 - 80 ft
Palm Spread: 10 - 20 ft
Palm Trunk: The un-branched cabbage palmetto usually grows an erect straight trunk, which is capable of reaching heights of 80 feet. Seen more readily of heights around 30-50 feet; the trunk of the Cabbage Palm also grows curved to leaning. Very resistant to breaking, the Cabbage Palm tree is very durable, with a trunk up to 1-2 ft in diameter. The thorn-less trunk will not droop, and is not particularly showy. The texture of the Cabbage Palm tree trunk is rough, fibrous and medium to course in touch. The columnar trunk of the Cabbage Palm tree is often covered with persistent, dead leaf bases but will fall off easy to the pull. The bark of the Cabbage Palm tree trunk is gray to brown in color. It is also tough and splits vertically with shallow furrows circling the stem. Unlike the king palm, the trunk of the Cabbage Palm does not have a crownshaft. Over time as the Cabbage Palm tree matures, trunk will turn grey and become more of a smooth texture.
Palm Foliage: The large leaves of the Cabbage Palm vary in color depending on placement and environment grown in. Colors range from medium green to deep olive green, and sometimes yellow-green. The stem of the Cabbage Palm leaf can reach lengths up to 7 feet. The leaf itself can have a width of 4 feet and 5 feet in length. Making the over all length roughly 12 ft long. The spineless leaves of the Cabbage Palm are deeply costapalmate (mix of palmate and pinnate). The leaves of the Cabbage Palm consist of 40 to 90 leaf blades that are about 1" to 2" wide.
Palm Foliage Growth Direction: Grows upward more so than outward.
Palm Flowering: The small fragrant white to near white flowers bear on an arching 2' flower branched cluster, blooming in early to mid-summer. The branches of flowers are held completely with in the crown of the Cabbage Palm.
Palm Fruits:The fruit of the Cabbage Palm tree is smooth, round and berry-like. The fleshy fruit is black to dark shiny blue, when ripe. The size of the fruit is no more then a half inch long and wide. The black round fruit contains a single brown spherical seed.
Palm Fruits Edible:The Cabbage Palm fruit is edible.
Palm Leaf Type: Costapalmate (mix of pinnate and palmate)

Cabbage Palm Growth Attributes:

Palm Speed of growth:Moderate
Palm Radial Spacing: 5-15 feet
Sun Exposure: Full sun to shade
Drought Toleration: Moderate to highly drought tolerant
Salt Toleration: Very high
Bloom Time: Mid-summer

Cabbage Palm Caring and Maintenance:

Palm Caring: Easy, to maintain and thrive.
Soil: The Cabbage Palm is adaptable to wide range of soils; either acidic or alkaline soil that drains well.
Soil Types:Adaptable to both acidic to alkaline
Water: Regularly water soil, and spray leaves for optimal results
Fertilizer:Use 100% organic or organic based fertilizers for best results
Potting and Planting: The Cabbage Palm can be potted and planted in landscapes and in interior surroundings; it requires moderate amounts of soil when potted, enough soil to cover it's roots and the bottom start of it's trunk. Do not bury the Cabbage Palm tree's trunk inside the dirt or else it will develop trunk rot.

Cabbage Palm Tree Environmental Impact:

The Cabbage Palm tree can virtually grow in all conditions; such as in swamps, dry flatlands, inland and even on the coast. The Cabbage Palm has many impacts on the environment we live in. From the leaf bases, which make nice points of attachment for orchids and bromeliads. All the way to swamp cabbage, eaten by many people in the south. In the early years, the Cabbage Palm was used as logs for cabin walls and dock pilings. The Seminole Indians used the Cabbage Palm fronds to thatch their roof, making them shelters and homes called chickee huts. Seminole Indians and other native Indians also used the leaves to make baskets, mats, and hats. Till this day the heart of the palm is cooked or eaten raw at many festivals or as meals through out the day. Consequently doing so, will discontinue further growth and ultimately kill the palm tree. The fruit that the cabbage palm produces provide an abundant supply of food to many kinds of wildlife. Including the following: raccoons, bats, wild turkeys, black bears, squirrels, birds and many other types of animals. The Cabbage Palm also serves as a canopy for understory plants and palms to grow in. The Cabbage Palm is very tolerant of high winds making it very durable and safe when hurricanes arrive. It is also drought tolerant, making this palm tree great for xeriscaping, saving on water consumption. Nutrient, disease, and pest problems are rare. A disease that is known to affect the cabbage palm is Ganoderma butt rot. This disease is known to kill palm trees through damaged areas of the trunk. Irrigation of the trunk should be avoided in order for Ganoderma butt rot not to set in. There are some pests that do pertain to the Cabbage palm. Such pests are known as, the giant palm weevil, cabbage palm caterpillar, and other types of scales. Although, most of the scales do not harm the palm tree, some may prove to be lethal. There are no bad habits that pertain to the cabbage palm tree. The Cabbage Palm does not face any near future extinction.

Cabbage Palm Seed, Cultivation, and Propagation:

Palm Seed Size: The average size is 1/4 inches in diameter.
Palm Seed Attributes: The Cabbage Palm seed is dark brown to black in color with a smooth texture. It is also spherical and sometimes shiny.
Palm Seed Harvesting: Seeds are obtained from within the ripe black spherical fruit. The fruits grow plentiful on the stalk. The cabbage palm fruits when mature fall off very easily and will propagate.
Palm Seed Propagation: The Cabbage palm seeds typically germinate in less than 1 month, but have taken up to six months. Seeds germinate very easily with little human intervention. Many of the fallen seeds get eaten up by animals and transported all over. With human intervention the chance of germinating a seed is much higher. Collect the seeds when fruit has become ripe or has fallen to the ground. Remove the fleshy fruit to insure growth.
Palm Seed Shelf Life: One year if treated and stored properly.
Palm Seed and Growing:The Cabbage Palm can be grown indoors, in the right conditions. Optimal temperature of germination is 80 to 90 degrees F. Added humidity and heat is recommended during cooler months.

Cabbage Palm Nurture and Nature:

Nurture vs. Nature: Typically the Cabbage Palms thrive when kept under normal natural outdoor conditions, rather than nurturing in a changing foreign environment. Nature will provide the heat and humidity this palm needs to flourish. Nurturing will take effort and can be difficult but not impossible to do.
Palm Transplanting: Transplanting causes little to no shock if transplanted under the right conditions. The Cabbage palm is more shocked if transplanted from field grown to pot and lesser of a shock if transplanted from pot to outdoor transplant hole, given the right conditions. Transplanting a cabbage palm tree is very simple and is one of the easiest palm trees to transplant. It is not sensitive to transplanting, and will survive transplanting most, if not all the time. A field grown or container grown cabbage palm needs different care. This palm tree is one of the more durable palm trees and can be mistreated to a certain extent. Container grown palm trees make for a much easier transplant. Do not attempt to transplant a cabbage palm that has been growing in the wild. The root system of a wild cabbage palm tree is extended and if not properly removed, will kill the palm tree. When digging the hole, be careful not to dig the hole too deep, for this will cause the trunk to set too low and will be more susceptible to trunk rot or Ganoderma butt rot. The root ball must be intact in order for the survival of the cabbage palm. Lower the cabbage palm tree in the hole and place the cabbage palm tree the way in which will appeal the most. Give one to two foot cushion around the diameter of the root ball for root growth. After the placement of the Cabbage Palm, fill in with new rich soil to stimulate new root growth. For best results, use well draining soil. Water the Cabbage Palm tree regularly since most of the roots will die off but will re-grow once established. Not watering properly will make the Cabbage Palm tree more susceptible to the giant palm weevil. Recent studies have indicated substantial root growth when most of the fronds have been cut, leaving just the spear. Be careful not to damage any of the trunk while transplanting. Damage areas will allow infection to set in which could ultimately kill the palm tree. The Cabbage Palm tree is highly drought tolerant but only when established. This palm tree requires little care and maintenance once settled in. Overall the Cabbage Palm does very well when transplanted.
 

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