What Is a Sabal Palm?


Sabal palms are trees that originate in the southeastern region of the United States, as well as parts of the Caribbean such as the Bahamas and Cuba. It is a palm tree that is part of the Arecaceae palm family (there are 15 different species). Sabal palms are also known as Sabal palmettos, cabbage palms, cabbage palmettos and palmetto palms.


The Sabal palm is a robust and vast palm tree that has a single trunk. The trunk does not branch out and grows to about 50 feet in height. The Sabal palm generally grows to a height of approximately 62 feet, although in some cases they can get to as high as 92 feet. They have comparatively small crowns that are usually between 12 and 18 feet in diameter.


The Sabal palm has big leaves that have a dull look to them. They are a moderate green color and in certain cases are a yellowish-green. The leaves are generally about 12 feet in length each, and can be up to 6 feet wide. There is no crown shaft to the Sabal palm, and leaves rise up straight from the trunk, which is oftentimes obscured with stem leaf bases.


The Sabal palm appears in coastal areas of the U.S. Southeast, starting on the barrier islands of North Carolina, passing through Georgia and then going all the way south to the Florida Keys. The Sabal palm exists along estuary shores, beaches and bays.


Sabal palm trees are highly tolerant of drought and salinity. The trees can adopt to the majority of soil types. They require partial shade to full sun, and are highly adaptable to moisture conditions. Sabal palms thrive on average levels of moisture and can tolerate brackish water and water stagnation. It is a low-maintenance tree.


Sabal palms are often used as ornamental trees, as well as street trees. Since they are very tolerant of salt, they can be cultivated directly on the beach or at the edges of inlets and bays. Sabal palm trees also are used in various Southern dishes. Their big leaf buds can be used to make hearts of palm and swamp cabbage salads.

Keywords: sabal palm, sabal palmetto tree, cabbage palm tree

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.