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Sabal is a genus of New World palms, many of the species being known as palmetto. They are fan palms (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets; in some of the species, the leaflets are joined for up to half of their length. A variable portion of the leaf petiole may remain persistent on the trunk for many years after leaf fall leaving the trunk rough and spiky, but in some, the lower trunk loses these leaf bases and becomes smooth. The fruit is a drupe.[4]

Sabal species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Paysandisia archon.

The species are native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of the Americas, from the southeastern United States south through the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America to Colombia and Venezuela in northern South America.

Uses

Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants and because several species are relatively cold-hardy, can be grown farther north than most other palms. The central bud of Sabal species is edible and known as heart of palm. The trees are grown commercially for this product, particularly in Brazil. Hearts of palm are occasionally available fresh and whole, but are usually sold cut in pieces and canned.

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

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