Serenoa repens

Botanical Name :Serenoa repens
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Coryphoideae
Tribe: Trachycarpeae
Subtribe: Livistoninae
Genus: Serenoa
Hook.f.
Species: S. repens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Arecales

Synonyms : Sabal serrulata – (Michx.)Schult.&Schult.f.

Common Names : Serenoa,saw palmetto
Habitat :Serenoa ios native to  South-eastern N. America – South Carolina to Florida, west to Arkansas. It is endemic to the southeastern United States, most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal plains, but also as far inland as southern Arkansas.
It grows in low pine woods, savannahs and thickets, where it often forms substantial thickets. Also found on coastal sand dunes

Description:
Saw palmetto is a small palm, normally reaching a height of around 2–4 m (3–6 ft). Its trunk is sprawling, and it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood hammocks. Erect stems or trunks are rarely produced but are found in some populations.
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It is a hardy plant; extremely slow growing, and long lived, with some plants, especially in Florida where it is known as simply the palmetto, possibly being as old as 500–700 years.It is a fan palm, with the leaves that have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets. The petiole is armed with fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name. The teeth or spines are easily capable of breaking the skin, and protection should be worn when working around a Saw Palmetto. The leaves are light green inland, and silvery-white in coastal regions. The leaves are 1–2 m in length, the leaflets 50–100 cm long. They are similar to the leaves of the palmettos of genus Sabal. The flowers are yellowish-white, about 5 mm across, produced in dense compound panicles up to 60 cm long. The fruit is a large reddish-black drupe and is an important food source for wildlife and historically for humans. The plant is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species such as Batrachedra decoctor, which feeds exclusively on the plant. This plant is also edible to human beings, but the more green it is the more bitter tasting it would be.

It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf all year. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.click to see

Fruit – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour but with a soapy taste and a strong vanilla-like aroma[238]. Regular consumption of the fruit is supposed to be very beneficial to the health, improving the digestion and helping to increase weight and strength. Seed – raw or cooked.

Cultivation:
Requires a warm sunny position in a moist but well-drained soil. Plants can succeed in quite dry soils so long as their roots can penetrate to underground water. Growing mainly in coastal areas in its native range, this species is likely to be very tolerant of maritime exposure, though not of cold winds. This species is one of the hardiest of palms and succeeds outdoors in warm temperate zones. It is only likely to be marginally hardy, even in the mildest areas of Britain, and probably tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. 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. Palms 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. Plants usually sucker freely in the wild and form dense thickets.

Propagation:
The seed is best sown in a warm greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. It usually germinates freely. Stored seed is more difficult to germinate, it should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water before sowing in a warm greenhouse. When 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. Although the plant forms suckers, these do not usually transplant well and so seed is the only sure method of propagation

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Medicinal Uses:
Antiseptic; Aphrodisiac; Diuretic; Expectorant; Sedative; Tonic; Uterine tonic.

Saw palmetto berries are a tonic herb that is used in the treatment of debility, urinary tract problems and for reducing enlarged prostate glands. The partially dried ripe fruit is aphrodisiac, urinary antiseptic, diuretic, expectorant, sedative and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of impotence, debility in elderly men, prostate enlargement and inflammation, bronchial complaints associated with coldness, and wasting diseases. Saw palmetto is one of the few Western herbs that are considered to be anabolic (strengthening and building body tissue and encouraging weight gain). The fruit pulp, or a tincture, is given to those suffering from wasting disease, general debility and failure to thrive. The fruit also has a beneficial effect on the urinary system, helping to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate gland and strengthening the neck of the bladder. The fruit has a probable oestrogenic action, it is prescribed in the treatment of impotence, reduced or absent sex drive and testicular atrophy in men and to stimulate breast enlargement in women. The fruit is also used in the treatment of colds, coughs, irritated mucous membranes, asthma etc. A suppository of the powdered fruits, in cocoa butter, has been used as a uterine and vaginal tonic.

The fruits of the saw palmetto are highly enriched with fatty acids and phytosterols, and extracts of the fruits have been the subject of intensive research for the symptomatic treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This extract is also commonly used for other medical conditions, such as baldness, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and other hyperandrogen conditions, though research on such uses is preliminary.

Numerous meta-analyses of clinical trials S. repens extract in the treatment of BPH have found it safe and effective for mild-to-moderate BPH compared to placebo, finasteride, and tamsulosin Two larger trials found the extract no different from placebo. An updated meta-analysis including these trials found that saw palmetto extract “was not more effective than placebo for treatment of hyperplasia but following two million U.S. who use saw palmetto, urinary problems are greatly reduced. However, saw palmetto extract was comparable to tamsulosin and finasteride in this meta-analysis. Longer-term (2 years; most clinical trials have been 1 year) open studies suggest that saw palmetto reduces the risk of men with BPH ultimately needing to have surgery

Other Uses:

The leaves are used for thatching by several indigenous groups; so commonly so that there is a location in Alachua County, Florida named Kanapaha (“palm house”). The fruits may have been used to treat an unclear form of fish poisoning by the Seminoles and Bahamians

Basketry; Brush; String.

The leaf stems have been used in making baskets. The plant has been used to make brushes and cordage.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenoa_repens
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Serenoa+repens

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