An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Saw Palmetto - Serenoa repens (Serenoa serrulata) (Sabal serrulata) (Brahea serrulata) - family: Palmaceae (Palmae) (Arecaceae) (Palm Family).

This low, shrubby rhizome-based member of the Palm family is found growing along the coastal plain in pine barrens, hammocks and sand dunes in southeastern United States. It can form dense thickets. It may grow up to ten feet high. It has large fan-shaped leaves with lance-shaped leaflets of blue, green or silver. These saw-toothed leaflets may reach three feet in length. In the spring and summer it produces clusters of tiny fragrant creamy-white flowers. They are followed by berries that are greenish to blackish in color. The fresh berries superficially resemble olive fruits, while the dried fruits resemble the pit of the olive. These sweet fruits ripen in early winter. The berries were used as a food source by Native American Indians. Native Americans used leaves and roots as the base for tea to remedy dysentery and indigestion. Traditional American folk use of dried berries as a remedy for asthma, bronchitis, colds, coughs and migraine headaches. First used by Native Americans for urinary tract infections. Traditional Native American use of inner bark from trunk in a poultice for insect bites, skin irritations and snakebites. Berries traditionally also used as a folk aphrodisiac. The berries are harvested, marketed and consumed in the United States as a dietary supplement to improve the health and functionality of the urinary tract. Now used as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a disorder of the prostate gland in which the urine flow is reduced. Modern American folk use of berries as a dietary supplement for prostate cancer. Note: the fruits may also have a sedative effect. Note: may cause indigestion or headache. Note: may inhibit male erection. The Saw Palmetto is the only member of its genus. It needs a sunny location with moist, well-drained soil with a minimum temperature of about 50° F. It can be grown from seed in the spring or it can be propagated by suckers. State tree of Florida and South Carolina. Berries were listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1900 to 1910. Native to southeastern United States. Native range in the United States is from South Carolina south to Florida Keys and west to Mississippi. Cultivated as an ornamental in southeastern United States. Note: the Cabbage Palmetto, Sabal palmetto, and the Dwarf Palmetto, Sabal minor, are different plants, in the same family, Palmaceae, but are in a different genus from the Saw Palmetto.



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Web page last updated on 22 May 2003.