|Figure 93.Saw palmetto (Serenoa serrulata)|
Other common names.Palmetto, dark palmetto fan palm.
Habitat and range.This palm is found in sandy soil from North Carolina and Arkansas to Florida and Texas.
Description.The saw palmetto is a fan-leaved, tufted palm with a creeping, branching stem 4 to 8 feet long. The bright-green, fan-shaped leaves with 15 to 30 divisions are roundish in outline and are borne on slender stalks edged with spines. The flower spike is thickly hairy, considerably shorter than the leaves, and the flowers are small and whitish. The fruit is from one-half to 1 inch in length, 1-seeded like an olive, reddish brown or blackish brown, and smooth but somewhat wrinkled in drying.
Part used.The fruit, usually referred to as the berries. The entire cluster is cut when most of the fruits are ripe. These are shaken off and dried on racks or tables. When still fresh they are not readily injured by rain, but if partially dried out they will absorb moisture which is not easily removed. It is best, therefore to protect them from rain, which will also assure a more uniformly colored product.