; Sabal Palms Part II- Sabal minor
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Sabal Palms Part II- Sabal minor


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									Sabal minor contains many cold hardy cultivars that are popular in southern
landscapes. Below is a discussion of this important species. Sabal minor (Dwarf
Palmetto) This southeast US native can be found from North Carolina south to Florida
and west to Texas. Unlike Sabal palmetto, Sabal minor forms a subterranean trunk
which can grow 5' deep, accounting for its amazing winter hardiness. Interestingly,
I've found two wild specimens of Sabal minor in coastal South Carolina with
above-ground trunks and Gary Hollar has found the same at other locations in South
Carolina. We don't know if these are true caulescent (trunking) forms or if the
subterranean trunk reached a point where its trunk could no longer grow in its natural
downward direction. It will be interesting to see if these come true from seed. There
are a number of named seed-grown cultivars, each of which represents a specific
genetic form or population. Sabal minor 'Bear Creek' (Bear Creek Dwarf Palmetto) I
was very surprised to see this westernmost population of Sabal minor in 2003 in
Kendall County, Texas, near the famed town of Luckenbach (north of San Antonio).
Here, Sabal minor grew along an oft-flooding creek below giant bald cypress, which
were nestled into a steep valley below the dry desert. The palm leaflets seemed a bit
narrower and the leaves more costapalmate (folding in the center) than I remembered
on other Sabal minor. Additionally, several of the plants had more than 1' of
aboveground trunk. The 7' tall, very upright flower spikes were much taller than what
I usually see in the east. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10) Sabal minor 'Blountstown Dwarf'
(Blountstown Dwarf, Dwarf Palmetto) These are seedlings from a very dwarf form of
Sabal minor found in Blountstown, Florida (just west of Tallahassee), that were
shared with us by Sabal palm guru Dr. Kyle Brown of Florida. The parent plant
matures out at 18" tall...a rock garden palm! We can't promise that each will be as
dwarf as the parent, but so far, this is looking to be the case. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)
Sabal minor 'Castor Dwarf' (Castor Dwarf, Dwarf Palmetto) When we were
botanizing near the town of Castor in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, in mid-March 2004,
we found a roadside population of dwarf congested Sabal minor with very narrow leaf
segments. There were several dozen plants in the population and all seemed to have
the same habit. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10) Sabal minor 'Emerald Island Giant' (Emerald
Island Dwarf Palmetto) These extraordinary Sabal minors originated from coastal NC
near Emerald Isle, where they were rescued from a construction site by NC palm
enthusiast Alan Brunner. They were subsequently planted in many of the Raleigh area
city parks. These Sabal minors are radically different in growth habit and size than
most other forms. Although these are much slower-growing, producing only one to
two leaves per year, they will eventually reach 7' tall x 10' wide with huge 5'+ wide
leaves. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10) Sabal minor 'McCurtain' (McCurtain Dwarf Palmetto)
These plants originated from an extremely vigorous natural stand of Sabal minor in
McCurtain County, Oklahoma, just west of Folsom, Arkansas, near the Red River.
According to the late Logan Calhoun (our original seed source), seedlings of this
population have survived temperatures of -24 degrees F in Wichita and are producing
seed. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10) Sabal minor 'Oriental Giant' (Oriental Giant Dwarf
Palmetto) In 2006, I was fortunate to accompany palm guru Gary Hollar to see the 10'
tall giant Sabal minor growing in the Pamlico County, NC town of Oriental. The
parent plants were growing in rich, sandy hardwood swamp. (Zone 7b-10) Sabal
minor 'Woodville' (Woodville Dwarf Palmetto) (Sabal minor A2LA-034) When we
were botanizing near Woodville, MS in late February 2003, we found a 6' tall Sabal
minor with a 7' flower spike full of seed. This may not sound strange except that this
was the only sabal seen on our entire trip that had not shed its seed. I assumed that the
seed was no good but, in fact, it all germinated. We do not know if this trait is
inheritable or not, but even if not, it is an exceptionally large specimen for this area
that should produce large offspring. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10) Sabal minor var.
louisiana (Louisiana Palmetto) (syn: Sabal louisiana) This unusual Gulf Coast native
is found only in a few swampy areas of Louisiana and east Texas, where it grows
among typical Sabal minor. Taxonomists often dismiss it as a variant of Sabal minor,
but the 6' tall trunk seems to say otherwise. If you don't agree, perhaps you'll change
your mind after a few whacks with those aforementioned 6' tall trunks. Perhaps we are
seeing speciation in progress. Regardless, all seedlings seem to develop a trunk. Sabal
minor var. louisiana, will reach 12' tall when mature and resembles Sabal x texensis
'Brazoria'. Sabal minor var. louisiana has never shown any winter damage here since
1999. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

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