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Sabal mexicana is a species of palm tree that is native to North America. Common names include Mexican Palmetto, Texas Palmetto, Texas Sabal Palm, Rio Grande Palmetto, and Palma de Mícharos.[1] The specific epithet, “mexicana”, is Latin for “of Mexico.” It is closely related to S. guatemalensis, and the two species may be synonymous.[2]

Description

Mexican Palmetto reaches a height of 12–18 m (39–59 ft), with a spread of 3–4 m (9.8–13 ft). The trunk reaches 12–15 m (39–49 ft) in length and 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. The fan-shaped fronds are 1.5–1.8 m (4.9–5.9 ft) wide and attach to 90–120 cm (35–47 in) spineless petioles. Spikes 1.2–1.8 m (3.9–5.9 ft) in length yield small bisexual flowers.[3] The drupes[4] are black when ripe and 12 mm (0.47 in) in diameter.[3]

Range

The current range of S. mexicana extends from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the United States south along both coasts to Nicaragua.[1] It is one of the most widespread and common palm trees in Mexico, where it is found in the drier lowlands.[5] Some believe that the species may have ranged much father north along the Texas Gulf Coast and as far inland as San Antonio at one time. This is supported by observations recorded in the 17th to 19th centuries, the presence of a small, disjunct population 200 mi (320 km) north of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and the ease with which cultivated trees have become naturalized in parts of Central Texas.[6]

Uses

Mexican Palmetto is grown as an ornamental for its robust, stately form, drought tolerance, and hardiness to USDA Zone 8.[7] The wood is resistant to decomposition[7] and shipworms, making it desirable for use in warf pilings[6] and fence posts.[7] The leaves are used for thatching and making straw hats. The drupes and palm hearts are eaten.[5]

Written on February 20th, 2012 , Botany, Forestry Tags:

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