Herb: Bush Palmetto


Latin name: Sabal minor


Synonyms: Sabal adansonii


Family: Palmae



Medicinal use of Bush Palmetto:

The crushed, small root juice has been rubbed into sore eyes as a counterirritant. A decoction of the dried root has been taken in the treatment of high blood pressure and kidney problems.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

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.

Edible parts of Bush Palmetto:

Fresh root slices have been baked and eaten as bread. The fruit is a small dry berry up to 10mm in diameter, with a thin sweet flesh. 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. Fruit - raw or cooked. Sweet and pleasant. A small dry berry up to 12mm in diameter, with a thin sweet flesh. A nourishing food, though it is said to be an acquired taste. Young leaves - raw or cooked. An excellent food. The large succulent leaf buds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Sap - sweet.

Other uses of the herb:

The dried leaves are used occasionally for the thatched roofs of huts. The following reports are for S. palmetto. They quite probably also apply to this species. An excellent fibre is obtained from the leaf stalks. 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. 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. Pieces of the spongy bark of the stem are used as a substitute for scrubbing brushes. The leaves are woven to make coarse hats, mats and baskets. The roots contain about 10% tannin. This has been harvested commercially in the past but there is not really enough tannin for profitable extraction. Wood - light and soft. The trunks are used to make wharf piles, whilst polished cross-sections of the trunk have been used as small table tops. The wood is also largely manufactured into canes.

Propagation of Bush Palmetto:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse at not less than 24C. 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 25C. 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.

Cultivation of the herb:

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.

Known hazards of Sabal minor:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.