Cabbage Palm aka Sabal Palm
The State Tree of Florida was also referred to as the Tree of Life by Native Americans because it was used for food, shelter, and clothing. Although the Cabbage Palm is slow growing, it may reach heights of 90 feet. When the first “woody” frond emerges from the trunk, the tree may already be 15 years old, as it grows its girth underground before emerging. Thereafter, the tree grows about 6 inches per year. Appearing in early summer, the greenish-white flowers are a favorite of bees. The round, black, shiny berries follow the flowers. Each berry contains one seed. Many birds and small mammals such as raccoons and squirrels eat the fruits. The fronds are still used today as thatching for chickee huts. Decaying matter that collects in the boots create a home for plants and small animals. Removal of the growth bud of a cabbage palm, located at the top of the trunk (the heart of the palm), is difficult to extract and kills the tree. Hearts of palm were a staple in the diets of pioneers.