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Serenoa repens (Saw palmetto)
Cressler, Alan

Serenoa repens

Serenoa repens (W. Bartram) Small

Saw Palmetto

Arecaceae (Palm Family)

Synonym(s): Brahea serrulata, Corypha repens, Serenoa serrulata

USDA Symbol: SERE2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The fan-shaped leaves of this evergreen shrub may be 3 ft. or more across, with harsh, saw-like teeth, or spines, along the petiole. Leaf color ranges from silvery-white or cloudy, blue-green to green. The shrub, usually 10-12 ft., is much-branched horizontally and occasionally becomes a small tree. Small, white, fragrant flowers occur on plume-like branched stalks from leaf axils. Fruit are orange to black when mature.

The Saw Palmetto is a member of the family Arecaceae, the palm family, which includes evergreen trees and shrubs and sometimes vines. Stout or sometimes slender unbranched trunk, not divided into bark and wood and not increasing in diameter. About 2500 species worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions, 11 native and 1 naturalized tree species and 2 native shrub species in North America; many others southward.


From the Image Gallery

14 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 12 feet tall.
Leaf: Yellow-Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , SC
Native Distribution: SC to FL & LA
Native Habitat: Pinelands; hammocks; sand dunes; savannas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Well-drained or seasonally water-logged soils.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Palmetto Skipper
(Euphyes arpa)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Propagation by seed is a slow process.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Research Literature

Reslit 101 - Flammability of native understory species in pine flatwood and hardwood hammock ecosystems and implications for the wildland-urban interface (2004) A. L. Behm, M. L. Duryea, A. J. Long and W. C. Zip...
Reslit 1223 - Postestablishment landscape performance of Florida native and exotic shrubs under irrigated and nonirrigated conditions (2008) S. M. Scheiber, E. F. Gilman, D. R. Sandrock, M. P...
Reslit 2447 - Life history strategies of Florida scrub plants in relation to fire (1995) E. S. Menges, N. Kohfeldt
Reslit 2605 - Post-fire growth strategies of resprouting Florida scrub vegetation (2011) A. J. Maguire, E. S. Menges
Reslit 2660 - Seasonal effects of prescribed burning and roller chopping on saw palmetto in flatwoods (2010) E. V. Willcox, W. M. Giuliano
Reslit 2661 - Life in the slow lane: Palmetto seedlings exhibit remarkable survival but slow growth in Florida's nutrient-poor uplands (2009) W. G. Abrahamson, C. R. Abrahamson
Reslit 2662 - Seed germination methods and establishment of saw-palmetto, Serenoa repens, in South Texas (2008) D. J. Makus
Reslit 2663 - Effects of burning season and frequency on saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) flowering and fruiting (2006) M. E. Carrington, J. J. Mullahey
Reslit 2664 - Post-fire canopy recovery in two fire-adapted palms, Serenoa repens and Sabal etonia (Arecaceae) (2006) W. G. Abrahamson, C. R. Abrahamson
Reslit 2665 - Seed dispersal by the Florida box turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri) in pine rockland forests of the lower Florida Keys, United States (2004) H. Liu, S. G. Platt, C. K. Borg

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

Additional resources

USDA: Find Serenoa repens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Serenoa repens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Serenoa repens


Record Modified: 2022-10-11
Research By: TWC Staff

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