Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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A common long-lived shrub or small tree of wet to dry flatwoods and hammocks throughout nearly all of Florida. The range extends through the southeastern coastal states from Texas to South Carolina.
This slow growing palm is usually decumbent with much of the trunk buried, but does sometimes grow upright. The leaves are fan shaped with deeply divided segments with petioles that have short curved spines along the edge. These spines are 0.5-2mm (~1/16 in. or less) and give the petiole the look and feel of a saw blade. Tiny greenish-white flowers grow on spikelike clusters, most prolifically after fire and in the spring. Fruit is an oblong yellowish drupe that turns black as it matures.
The junction of the petiole and leaf (hastula) is short and blunt (see photo titled 'Saw Palmetto hips'). Compare this with the hastula of the cabage palm.