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FYN Publications: Native Landscape Plants for South Florida

Palms & Cycad

Note: U indicates plants commonly available in nurseries and/or garden centers in south Florida

Click on underlined scientific names for photos and/or more information.

 

Common name
Scientific name

Size
(feet)

Light
preference

Salt tolerance

Comments

Silver palm U
Coccothrinax argentata

3-8

Full sun

High

Small, slow-growing palm with round, palmate leaves that are dark, shiny green above and silvery below. Small, purplish-black fruit produced nearly year-round.

Buccaneer palm, Sargent’s cherry palm U
Pseudophoenix sargentii

10

Full sun

High

Slow-growing feather leaf palm. Grows naturally in sandy or limestone soils in areas that receive little rainfall. Gray trunk and prominent gray-green crownshaft, topped by sparse crown of silvery-blue-green leaves. Produces red, grape-sized fruit. Considered endangered in Florida, but common in the nursery trade.

Scrub palmetto
Sabal etonia

3-5

Full sun

Moderate

Small, trunkless, solitary, shrub-like fan palm native to central Florida. Bears large clusters of small, purplish black fruit. Grows best in sandy soils.

Dwarf blue palmetto U
Sabal minor

2-4

Partial shade

Moderate

Small, trunkless, shrub-like palm native to central and north Florida. Resembles S. etonia, but smaller and with bluish-green leaves. Can tolerate wet soils.

Cabbage palm U
Sabal palmetto

25-50

Full sun to partial shade

High

Common tall palm with rounded crown of fan-shaped leaves and smooth or rough trunk. Highly adaptable. Florida’s state ‘tree’. Often over-used in landscaping.

Saw palmetto U
Serenoa repens

3-8

Full sun to partial shade

High

Clumping fan palm with prostrate or upright trunks. One of the most abundant native palms in Florida. Green and silver forms available. Spreading tendency can be a problem when left uncontrolled. Petioles heavily armed.

Keys thatch
palm U
Thrinax morrissii

15

Full sun to partial sun

High

Grows naturally in alkaline soils, sometimes on limestone outcrops. Fan-shaped leaves are bluish-green above and silvery below. Small white fruit produced in the fall.

Florida thatch palm U
Thrinax radiata

25

Full sun to partial sun

High

Grows naturally in sand or on limestone. Differs from T. morrissii by having leaves that are green on both sides.

Florida coontie U
Zamia floridana

1-5

Full sun to shade

High

Florida’s only native cycad. Comes in a variety of sizes and with narrow to wide leaflets. Separate male and female plants. Sole larval food source for atala hairstreak butterfly. Requires well-drained soil. Zamia pumila and Z. integrifolia are synonyms.

 

Native Plant Categories

The 135 native plant species listed in this publication are grouped according to their functions in the landscape. Separate pages are provided for the following categories: