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Useful Tropical Plants

Sabal minor

(Jacq.) Pers.

Arecaceae


Plants in Louisiana, with larger features and well-developed, aerial stems have at times been recognized as a separate species, but more recently they have been treated as merely ecological variants of a single widespread species[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. Large emergent forms of S. Minor were even thought to be hybrids of that species with S. Palmetto, but this claim is undocumented and unsubstantiated[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

+ Synonyms

Corypha minor Jacq.

Sabal adansonii Guersent.

Sabal louisiana (W.Darby) Bomhard.

Common Name: Bush Palmetto

Sabal minor
Growing as an understorey in its native habitat
Photograph by: Miguel Vieira
Creative Commons License
Sabal minor Sabal minor Sabal minor Sabal minor Sabal minor

General Information

Sabal minor is usually a small, evergreen palm with a subterranean stem; however, one can find individuals with larger features and well-developed aerial stems. In Louisiana, these individuals were recognized as separate species, but more recently they have been treated as merely ecological variants of a single widespread species[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. Large emergent forms of S. Minor were even thought to be hybrids of that species with S. Palmetto, but this claim is undocumented and unsubstantiated[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].
The plant has a wide range of uses, providing food, medicines and a range of materials for the local people.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
,
274
Title
Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas
Publication
 
Author
Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J
Website
http://artemis.austincollege.edu/acad/bio/gdiggs/NCTXpdf.htm
Publisher
Botanical Research Institute, Texas.
Year
1999
ISBN
1-889878-01-4
Description
An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.

Range

South-eastern N. America - North Carolina to Florida.

Habitat

An understorey shrub of broad-leaved, mainly deciduous woodlands in low-lying river terrace areas and other sites where water at the roots is readily available[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height3.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the warm temperate to subtropical zones. This species succeeds in moist tropical climates with an annual rainfall of 1,500mm or more[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. It tolerates short-lived freezes down to about -10°c[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
].
Succeeds in most fertile moist but well-drained soils in a sheltered sunny position[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. Although it prefers a humid atmosphere, this species is tolerant of arid atmospheres so long as it has plenty of moisture available at the roots[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. Plants can tolerate at least some maritime exposure with salt spray and somewhat saline soil conditions[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
].
Palms usually have deep penetrating root systems and generally establish best when planted out at a young stage. However, older plants are substantially more cold tolerant than juvenile plants[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection, and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. This species can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and/or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced. It is important to stake the plant very firmly to prevent rock, and also to give it plenty of water until re-established - removing many of the leaves can also help[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
].
Of prolific growth and vigour in its native environment, this species has proved to be difficult to establish and slow to grow in cultivation[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. Small plants are especially slow to get away and are best container-grown until of a good size[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
].

Edible Uses

Fresh root slices have been baked and eaten as bread[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].
The pith of the stem is edible[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

The fruit is a small dry berry up to 10mm in diameter, with a thin sweet flesh[
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
]. Although we have seen no other records of edibility for this species, the following uses are for the related S. palmetto. They quite probably also apply here[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Fruit - raw or cooked[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
]. Sweet and pleasant[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
]. A small dry berry up to 12mm in diameter, with a thin sweet flesh[
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
]. A nourishing food, though it is said to be an acquired taste[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
].

Young leaves - raw or cooked[
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
]. An excellent food[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
]. The large succulent leaf buds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
].

Sap - sweet[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
].

Medicinal

The crushed, small root juice has been rubbed into sore eyes as a counterirritant[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].
A decoction of the dried root has been taken in the treatment of high blood pressure and kidney problems[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

The dried leaves are used occasionally for the thatched roofs of huts[
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
].

The following reports are for S. palmetto. They quite probably also apply to this species[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

An excellent fibre is obtained from the leaf stalks[
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
]. The best quality is from young leaf stalks still in the bud, whilst coarser material is obtained from older leaves or the bases of old leaf stalks surrounding the bud[
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
]. The fibres are up to 50cm long, they are harvested commercially and used to make brushes, especially where these have to remain stiff in hot water or caustics[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
,
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
].

Pieces of the spongy bark of the stem are used as a substitute for scrubbing brushes[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
].

The leaves are woven to make coarse hats, mats and baskets[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
].

The roots contain about 10% tannin[
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
]. This has been harvested commercially in the past but there is not really enough tannin for profitable extraction[
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
].

Wood - light and soft[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
]. The trunks are used to make wharf piles, whilst polished cross-sections of the trunk have been used as small table tops[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
]. The wood is also largely manufactured into canes[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse at not less than 24°c[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
]. Stored seed is very slow to germinate. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing may shorten the germination time. Plants form a long tap-root some time before forming a shoot. Germination of fresh seed usually takes place in 3 - 4 months at 25°c[
138
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 3.
Publication
 
Author
Bird. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1989
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors.

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