USA Official State Tree of Florida

Cabbage Palmetto

(Arecaceae Sabal palmetto)
Adopted in 1953.

The 1953 Legislature designated the sabal palm, Arecaceae Sabal palmetto, as the State Tree. This palm is the most widely distributed in the state and possesses a majesty that sets it apart from other trees. It grows in almost any soil and has many uses including food and medicine. It is also used widely for landscaping because of its universal popularity. In addition, the 1970 Florida Legislature mandated that the sabal palm should replace the cocoa palm on the State Seal.


Cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto) is the most northerly and abundant of the native tree palms. Other names sometimes used are Carolina palmetto, common palmetto, palmetto, and cabbage-palm. This medium-sized unbranched evergreen palm commonly grows on sandy shores, along brackish marshes, in seacoast woodlands of Southeastern United States and throughout peninsular Florida. It can tolerate a broad range of soil conditions and is often planted as a street tree. Abundant fruit crops provide a good supply of food to many kinds of wildlife.

  • Leaf: Alternate, palmately compound, fan shaped; leaflets very long (4 to 6 feet) and lance shaped, leaf stalks are long, extend through the leaf, and are without sharp edges; green in color, overall leaf nearly round and several feet long.
  • Flower: Small white flowers occurring on large (several feet), branched clusters, appearing in early summer.
  • Fruit: Fleshy drupe, nearly round, 1/3 to 1/2 inch across, dark shiny blue, maturing in early fall and persistent into the winter.
  • Twig: Absent, since leaves appear directly out of unbranched trunk.
  • Bark: Gray brown, tough, splits vertically.
  • Form: Tall (to 80 feet), straight trunk with a short rounded crown.
Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta ? Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta ? Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida ? Monocotyledons
Subclass Arecidae ?
Order Arecales ?
Family Arecaceae ? Palm family
Genus Sabal Adans. ? palmetto
Species Sabal palmetto (Walt.) Lodd. ex J.A. & J.H. Schultes ? cabbage palmetto


Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture