The sabal palm is native to FL and is the state “tree” of both FL and SC, despite the fact that palms are NOT trees (they are flowering plants)! Notice the persistent old leaf bases along the trunks, called boots because soldiers used them to hang their boots to dry. Due to genetic differences, some sabals lose their boots at a younger age than others. A noticeably rounded canopy of leaves, about 10 feet x 10 feet, is another useful identification feature.
The Seminoles taught the settlers to eat the heart of the sabal , hence the common name of cabbage palm; however, after the heart is taken from inside the trunk near where the leaves emerge, the palm will die, so this is not a sustainable source of food!
Over 100 Sabal palmetto grow in Valencia Reserve in Boynton Beach; see how many different species of plants you can find growing in the boots: orchids, air plants, ferns, and even poison ivy all seem happy in the nooks and crannies.
Additional VR palms can be seen as a slideshow- click "slideshow" in the upper right hand corner of this blog!
Katherine Wagner-Reiss has her botany Certificate from the New York Botanical Garden, where she is a volunteer tour guide.