THE SABAL PALM – Our Tree of Life
THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR LIVING
Our native sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) is a treasure. It has been used by the Native Americans for centuries to provide food, shelter and other useful items. It is considered a “Tree of Life” in their cultures.
An ecosystem in a tree…
“Sabal palm often hosts other plants in its “boots,” including strangler fig, wild grape, Virginia creeper, and a variety of beautiful threatened and endangered ferns. The sabal palm also shelters and supplies nesting material to bats, caracaras, cardinals, crows, doves, flycatchers, gnatcatchers, hawks, hummingbirds, kinglets, mockingbirds, shrikes, wrens, possums, raccoons, squirrels, snakes, tree frogs, lizards, and a variety of insects”. – excerpt from FANN (Florida Association of Native Nurseries) infographic.
DON’T OVERPRUNE THEM
Palm trees are technically not real trees, but related genetically to grasses; think bamboo. Palms must never be over-pruned. This is because palm trees absorb nutrients from the fronds that are turning brown, which is an important part of how it obtains essential nutrients. What does this mean? It means that sabal palms should be left with a full round head as much as possible, and in a natural setting, do not need pruning at all. If you must prune off foliage, it should only be completely brown fronds and those that hang below the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock plane. Anything more than this is considered tree abuse.
LEAVE THE BOOTS ON
Over pruning and removing the “boots” also removes the habitat of plants and beneficial wildlife, so don’t remove them. They are a great place to observe nature. Just remember that the boots will fall off over time. These boots are great for mounting orchids, and for other interesting craft ideas.
BEWARE OF LETHAL BRONZING
Unfortunately, in recent years, sabal palms have fallen victim to Lethal Bronzing Disease, (formerly called Texas Phoenix Palm Decline), which is decimating the population both in the wild and in cultivation.
Be aware of Lethal Bronzing Disease signs and call a tree specialist if you are not sure.. LBD can spread rapidly and can only be treated BEFORE signs appear. For more information on identifying and treating LBD (Lethal Bronzing Disease) and proper palm pruning, please click the following links: