Herb: Cabbage Palmetto

Latin name: Sabal palmetto

Family: Palmae

Medicinal use of Cabbage Palmetto:

The berries or seeds have been used in the treatment of grass sickness, low fever, headaches and weight loss.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Brackish marshes, seacoast woodlands or hammocks and sandy soils near the coast.

Edible parts of Cabbage Palmetto:

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:

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 Cabbage 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:

Brackish marshes, seacoast woodlands or hammocks and sandy soils near the coast.

Known hazards of Sabal palmetto:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.