Sabal miamiensis

Common Names:
Miami palmetto
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:

The conservation of Sabal miamiensis is fully sponsored.


Sabal miamiensis is a dwarf fan-leaf palm with an underground stem and large (19 mm in diam.), black fruits with large (11.0 mm diam) seeds. It was first collected by J. K. Small in 1901 in the vicinity of what is now Miami, Florida (Small 1903). During the first decade of the 1900s, Small and others collected specimens of this palm from the rocky ridges known as Miami rocklands or Miami pine rocklands in Dade and Broward counties. Small misapplied the name Sabal megacarpa (Chapm.) Small, but this name is properly a synonym of Sabal etonia Swingle ex Nash. The taxon was formally named by Zona in 1985.

Sabal miamiensis is similar to Sabal etonia Swingle ex Nash, but S. etonia is native to the sand pine scrub of Central Florida's Lake Wales Ridge and the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, were it grows in association with Pinus clausa. Sabal etonia has fruits 9.0 - 15.4 mm in diameter and seeds 6.4 - 9.9 mm in diameter; it also has inflorescences with two orders of branching (Zona 1985).

In the Miami pine rocklands, another palm is often present, dwarf forms of Sabal palmetto (Walt.) Lodd. ex J.A. & J.H. Schultes. This species is usually a large palm with a trunk over 5 m tall, but in the poor, rocky soil of the rocklands, S. palmetto is dwarfed and hence, superficially similar to S. miamiensis in size and the degree of branching of its inflorescence (three orders). Sabal palmetto has smaller fruits (8.1 - 13.9 mm diam.) and smaller seeds (5.4 - 9.7 mm diam.).

During the course of Zona's work on the palm, he visited a site in North Miami, which was identified by a local botanist as supporting a small population of Sabal miamiensis. These palms were initially named by Zona as belonging to S. miamiensis, but subsequently, he identified them as belonging to S. etonia or dwarf forms of S. palmetto. No living populations of S. miamiensis are known to exist.

Sabal etonia is distinctive in its habitat (sand pine scrub) and S. palmetto is usually distinguished by its stature and small fruits and seeds. Nevertheless, in Dade County, there is some overlap in fruit and seed size among these three species, hence determination of species is difficult. A proposal to list S. miamiensis as an endangered species was declined, owing to uncertainties about its taxonomic distinctiveness.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research