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Common Name: Mexican Palmetto
Sabal mexicana is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 10.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
Southern N. America - Texas to Mexico and Guatemala.
Mesic hammocks, floodplains, levees, river banks and swamps from sea level to 50 metres[
]. Rich soil of the bottom lands near the coast[
Succeeds in most fertile moist but well-drained soils in a sheltered sunny position[
]. Although it prefers a humid atmosphere, this species is tolerant of arid atmospheres so long as it has plenty of moisture available at the roots[
Plants from the north of its range (in Texas) have a reasonably marginal frost-tolerance and might be suitable for growing outdoors in the very mildest areas of the country[
Palms usually have deep penetrating root systems and generally establish best when planted out at a young stage. However, older plants are substantially more cold tolerant than juvenile plants[
]. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection, and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates[
]. This species can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and/or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced. It is important to stake the plant very firmly to prevent rock, and also to give it plenty of water until re-established - removing many of the leaves can also help[
A very variable plant in the wild[
The fruit is a small dry berry up to 25mm in diameter, with a thin sweet flesh[
]. Although we have seen no records of edibility for this species, the following uses are for the related S. palmetto. They quite probably also apply here[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Sweet and pleasant[
]. A nourishing food, though it is said to be an acquired taste[
]. The fruit is up to 12mm long and 3mm wide[
Young leaves - raw or cooked. An excellent food[
Sap - sweet[
The leaves are used for making baskets, chair seats or thatch[
The following reports are for S. palmetto. They quite probably also apply to this species[
An excellent fibre is obtained from the leaf stalks[
]. The best quality is from young leaf stalks still in the bud, whilst coarser material is obtained from older leaves or the bases of old leaf stalks surrounding the bud[
]. The fibres are up to 50cm long, they are harvested commercially and used to make brushes, especially where these have to remain stiff in hot water or caustics[
The roots contain tannin[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse at not less than 24°c[
]. Stored seed is very slow to germinate. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing may shorten the germination time. Plants form a long tap-root some time before forming a shoot. Germination of fresh seed usually takes place in 3 - 4 months at 25°c[
]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors.