Cabbage Palm


Cabbage palm is the state tree of Florida.  Because of its beauty and versatility the cabbage palm is at the top of the list of favorite palms.  It is a large robust palm with a single unbranching trunk that grows to about 50 ft  but may occasionally reach heights of 70 ft. The crown is relatively small being 12-18 ft  in diameter. Like many palms the crown is typically wider when grown in shade and more compact when grown in full sun.

The large leaves have a dull finish and are a medium green, sometimes yellow-green, in color depending on the individual and situation. Each leaf is up to 12 ft long overall including the spineless petioles (leaf stems) which measure about 5-6 ft in length. They are up to 6 ft  in width with drooping leaf segments about 3 ft  long and 2-3 in wide.  These segments are split to about half the width of the leaf and typically slough off tan fibers at the edges.  Cabbage palm leaves are said to be costapalmate meaning that the leaflets are arranged on the stem in a pattern that is midway between palmate (leaflets arranged like the fingers on the palm of your hand) and pinnate (feather shaped).

Unlike the royal palm, the cabbage palm has no crownshaft.  Leaves emerge directly from the trunk which is often covered with old leaf stem bases that are arranged in an interesting criss-cross pattern.  Depending on the individual these may persist to the ground even in very old palms.  Other trees in the same vicinity may shed their leaf attachments or "boots" as they are sometimes called very early in life revealing a rough fibrous brown trunk.  Eventually the trunk will age to gray and the surface will become smooth.

In mid-summer the cabbage palm bears creamy white flowers on a long branched inflorescence that is held completely within the crown. Flowers are followed in late fall or early winter by black spherical fruit that is about one third of an inch in diameter. Inside is a shiny brown seed that is about one quarter of an inch in diameter. Squirrels, raccoon and many other species of mammal and bird enjoy visiting the cabbage palm for dinner feasts of fruit and seed.

Light:   Full sunlight to some shade.  Trunk development is suppressed in heavily shaded specimens.  Moisture: Very adaptable.  Average moisture will do. Tolerates drought, standing water and brackish water. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 10 This is a hardy frost tolerant palm that can survive many degrees below freezing.

Cabbage palm is the state tree of Florida.  Because of its beauty and versatility the cabbage palm is at the top of the list of favorite palms.  It is a large robust palm with a single unbranching trunk that grows to about 50 ft  but may occasionally reach heights of 70 ft. The crown is relatively small being 12-18 ft  in diameter. Like many palms the crown is typically wider when grown in shade and more compact when grown in full sun.

The large leaves have a dull finish and are a medium green, sometimes yellow-green, in color depending on the individual and situation. Each leaf is up to 12 ft long overall including the spineless petioles (leaf stems) which measure about 5-6 ft in length. They are up to 6 ft  in width with drooping leaf segments about 3 ft  long and 2-3 in wide.  These segments are split to about half the width of the leaf and typically slough off tan fibers at the edges.  Cabbage palm leaves are said to be costapalmate meaning that the leaflets are arranged on the stem in a pattern that is midway between palmate (leaflets arranged like the fingers on the palm of your hand) and pinnate (feather shaped).

Unlike the royal palm, the cabbage palm has no crownshaft.  Leaves emerge directly from the trunk which is often covered with old leaf stem bases that are arranged in an interesting criss-cross pattern.  Depending on the individual these may persist to the ground even in very old palms.  Other trees in the same vicinity may shed their leaf attachments or "boots" as they are sometimes called very early in life revealing a rough fibrous brown trunk.  Eventually the trunk will age to gray and the surface will become smooth.

In mid-summer the cabbage palm bears creamy white flowers on a long branched inflorescence that is held completely within the crown. Flowers are followed in late fall or early winter by black spherical fruit that is about one third of an inch in diameter. Inside is a shiny brown seed that is about one quarter of an inch in diameter. Squirrels, raccoon and many other species of mammal and bird enjoy visiting the cabbage palm for dinner feasts of fruit and seed.

Light:   Full sunlight to some shade.  Trunk development is suppressed in heavily shaded specimens.  Moisture: Very adaptable.  Average moisture will do. Tolerates drought, standing water and brackish water. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 10 This is a hardy frost tolerant palm that can survive many degrees below freezing.