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Sabal Palmetto

Sabal Palmetto

The Sabal Palmetto is a beautiful fan palm with glossy green leaves that is drought, wind, cold and salt water spray tolerant.

It is a very popular tree in the southern U.S. where it originates.

Easy to grow.

Thrives in many locations and soils.

It is the state tree for both Florida and South Carolina making it a popular site in those areas.

Different Kinds

The Sabal palm now has 2 different strains growing in the southern states.

The original is easily found in the wild flourishing even right on the edge of the ocean.

The new strain is called the Sabal Palmetto “Lisa.”

It has all the same characteristics and tolerances of the original tree but the leaves are different in shape and presentation.

Sabal Palmetto--Cabbage Palm Tree

They also carry many nicknames including:

  • Cabbage Palm,
  • Cabbage Palmetto,
  • Sabal Palm
  • Palmetto Palm 

just to name a few.

It is a member of the overall Sabal Palm family and belongs to the Palmetto branch of that family.

There are 14 other species included in the palmetto branch.


These palms can get quite large, normally reaching 60 plus feet and occasionally as much as almost 100 feet.

There can be some confusion in identification because of the looks of the trunk.

They can display both a smooth trunk with no attached leaf boots and also a rough looking trunk when the leaf boots- after pruning –have remained attached to the tree.

Your Ultimate Palm Tree Handbook
Sabal (Lisa) Palmetto Hybrid Cabbage Palm Tree

 original photo by Zeeth and found here:

Sabal Lisa

The original Sabal Palmetto has large glossy green fan leaves that have long points at the end of them and a smaller center to the fan.

The Lisa variety has a more solid looking leaf.

No long or hanging points.

The points on her leaves are very minimal and giving the appearance of a tougher, fuller looking fan.

Cabbage Palm Tree - Medium

Quick info: Cabbage palm: 

Scientific name Sabal palmetto

  • 60-90 ft tall, 12 ft wide, single trunk
  • minimum temp 22°F     zones 8-11
  • full sun, drought and salt tolerant
  • growth rate slow to medium in any well drained soil,

Sabal Palmetto Growth and Care

Sabal Palmettos- Cabbage Palm Trees on Shore Next to Ocean

This palmetto is an easy keeper. It can tolerate temperatures to 7°F or -13°C.

Its ability to withstand salt spray from the ocean, standing in water and drought make it popular for landscapes and ocean fronts.

They also will withstand high winds if not over pruned. More leaves equals better wind tolerance.

They prefer full sun to part sun, regular light watering and fertilizer every couple of months will help to keep them looking their best.

Well drained soil will work but isn’t really necessary. That’s one of the reasons for the name swamp cabbage.

They do fine in a swampy location.

They can be cultivated from seed, but most just dig up a smaller, healthy specimen from the wild.

They take some time to get established so this shortens the need to wait for the landscapes to develop from seed.

Palm Heart

Palm Tree Hearts for Food

The Sabal Palmetto is well known for its use as palm heart-in it's case-sometimes called swamp cabbage.

The heart or the new leaf bud (also called terminal bud) is cut from the tree and used in salads.

The bud where all the new leaves are formed is very tender and tastes something like an artichoke. They are also cut and canned for commercial use.

If the new bud is taken from the tree, it is unable to grow any new leaves and will eventually die. It really is the heart of the tree.

Here’s your landscape solution for colder climates, swampy areas, ocean spray- where nothing else will grow successfully.

The easy care and great fan leaves should make this a great landscape choice for those hard to plant areas!

You might like these

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  • Ruffled Fan Palm

    The Ruffled fan palm is hard one to miss. It’s a super choice for containers indoors or out and in landscapes. This one is sure to attract some attention.

  • Sago Palm Tree

    The sago palm tree has a different kind of leaf than a “normal” palm. It's popular for containers.

NOTE :  About Buying Palms

If you are looking to buy palm trees of any kind then I would highly recommend purchasing through the Real Palm Tree Store.

They are a huge nursery based in Florida with connections to many quality growers.

Whether you are ordering from inside the United States, Canada or another part of the world-- ordering one tree for your landscape or many for a commercial project-- I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

Their customer service is second to none; all products are high quality and backed by a money back 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Make sure to visit real palm trees, ask questions and read the reviews before buying anywhere else.

Palm Tree Store

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You may also enjoy these related articles:

Cold hardy types list all the palms that can tolerate below freezing temps

Large  and medium palms list the common landscaping choices

Small varieties includes the ones commonly placed around pools and patios, for containers.

Indoor Palms list the easiest ones to grow in your home or office year round.

Planting covers the best practices so your next tree can get off to a great start.

Growing teaches the plant hardiness zones,and explains frequently used garden terminology.

Fertilizing shows what the perfect mix, calculating amounts and how to read the labels.

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