Serenoa Hook.f.
  • G.Bentham & J.D.Hooker, Gen. Pl. 3: 1228 (1883) 

Notes: Distribution: SE. U.S.A.

General Description

Moderate, clustered, shrubby, armed, pleonanthic, hermaphroditic palm. Stem subterranean or prostrate and surface creeping, or rarely erect, covered with persistent leaf sheaths, axillary buds developing as either inflorescences or vegetative suckers. Leaves induplicate, palmate, marcescent; sheath expanding into a tattered mat of dark brown fibres; petiole flat to slightly rounded adaxially, rounded to angled abaxially, margin armed with numerous small teeth; adaxial hastula conspicuous, ± rounded, membranous, abaxial hastula semicircular, often split, membranous; blade nearly orbicular, regularly divided to below the middle into narrow stiff, shortly bifid, single-fold segments, glabrous except for scattered caducous scales along the ribs, midribs conspicuous abaxially, transverse veinlets conspicuous, rather distant. Inflorescences interfoliar, erect and about equaling the leaves but often hidden by them, curved, branched to 3(–4) orders; peduncle slender, flattened, rather short; prophyll tubular, 2-keeled, with 2 triangular apical lobes; peduncular bract 1 or lacking, tightly sheathing, caducously tomentose; rachis longer than the peduncle; rachis bracts like the peduncular bract but decreasing in size distally; first-order branches with a short 2-keeled prophyll; subsequent bracts small, membranous; rachillae spreading, densely tomentose, bearing spirally arranged, small, irregularly cleft bracts subtending solitary or paired flowers. Flowers with tubular calyx of 3 triangular, slightly imbricate lobes; corolla tubular, split to 2/3 its length into 3 lobes, valvate, inconspicuously grooved adaxially; stamens 6, filaments borne at the mouth of the corolla tube, gradually tapered, not inflexed, anthers erect in bud, elliptic, dorsifixed, somewhat versatile, latrorse; carpels 3, basally distinct, united in the attenuate stylar region to a narrow stigma, ovule anatropous. Pollen ellipsoidal, usually slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely perforate, perforate and micro-channelled, or perforate rugulate, aperture margin slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 31–44 µm; post-meiotic tetrads tetrahedral or tetragonal, rarely rhomboidal [1/1]. Fruit ellipsoidal to subglobose, dark blue to black at maturity, abortive carpels basal, stigmatic scar apical or subapical; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy without fibres, endocarp thin but somewhat cartilaginous. Seed basally attached with elongate raphe, endosperm homogeneous with a shallow lateral intrusion of seed coat; embryo lateral towards the base opposite the raphe. Germination remote-ligular; eophyll entire, plicate. Cytology: 2n = 36.

Diagnostic Description

Thicket forming hermaphroditic fan palm with creeping, highly branched stems, occurring in pinelands, prairies and sand dunes in southeastern USA.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), roots (Seubert 1997), floral anatomy reported by Morrow (1965) to be similar to that of Acoelorrhaphe.


Common in pinelands, prairies, and coastal sand dunes, often forming dense swards.


One species in the southeastern USA.


Regarded as a pest in the wild. The glaucous form is much prized as an ornamental. Fruits contain a bioactive ingredient, used in the treatment of benign prostate cancer and as a health supplement for men.

Common Names

Saw palmetto.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Northern America Southeastern U.S.A. Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.