Bok Tower

Saw Palmetto

Picture taken by: Eric Williams
GPS points taken by: Marie Granados
Location: Pine Ridge Nature Preserve at Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida

Elevation: 242Ft
Latitude: N27.93968
Longitude: W81.57773

Form: Typically a low, prostrate shrub with a more or less buried trunk, sometimes upright having dimensions of a small tree.

Leaves: Fan shaped, deeply divided among a lot of segments, it is also yellowish-green to green. The petioles are 5 - 10 cm long, and has sharp, curved spines similar to saw blades.

Flowers:Greenish-white, 5 - 6 mm long, borne in spike like groups from among the leaves. In spring this episodic flower is prolific to follwing filre (Abrahamson, 1995).

Fruit: An oblong drupes, yellowish at first turning black at maturity. Fifteen to 25 mm long, 12 - 15 mm in diameter.

Distinguishing Marks: This is the common palmetto. It ranges across a lot of Florida. It is most easily distinguished by the hard, sharp, curved prickles which line both edges of the petiole.

Distribution: Sandy praries, dunes, flatwoods, scrub oak ridges and cabbage palm hammocks among the state.

Saw Palmetto is a long-lived plant. Based on research at Archbold Biological Research Station around Lake Placid, personal communications suggests that a lot of plants in this state of Warren Abrahamson said to probablybe, or exceed, 700 years in age. They have a slow grown rate as from the evidnce from his theory. The fruit of the Saw Palmetto is also a great interest. Medical research in Europe suggests that the plants yellowish drupes just might be beneficial in the treatment of prostate cancer. In the Far East there are beliefs hat the plants fruit is a powerful aphrodisiac with extraordinary sexual powers (Associated Press Story, 1995). According to the Associated press, the price per pound of Saw Palmetto drupes sorred from 10 cents to $3.50 allowing South Florida gatheres to gross as much as $300.00 per day for summer harvest.

Article written by: Chris Lee

 

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