palmetto palm or palmetto (pălmĕtˈō) [key] [Span., = little palm], common name for palm trees of the genera Sabal and Serenoa, ranging from the sandy pinelands of the S United States to Colombia. Sabal palmetto, the common native palm of the Southeastern states, is one of the trees called cabbage palm; it has an erect stem and fan-shaped leaves that are edible when young. Palmetto wood is used for pilings and the leaves for thatch. South Carolina, where the tree is indigenous, is sometimes called the Palmetto State. In cooler climates the palmetto is often grown as a greenhouse ornamental. An extract of the dried ripe fruits of the saw palmetto, Serenoa repens, is used as an herbal remedy for prostate-related urinary conditions in men though studies have questioned its efficacy. Palmetto palms are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Arecales, family Palmae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.