CPC Plant Profile: Miami Palmetto
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Plant Profile

Miami Palmetto (Sabal miamiensis)

An herbarium specimen of the leaves of this species. Photo Credit:
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Arecaceae
  • State: FL
  • Nature Serve ID: 148629
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 01/01/1985

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.

Updates
  • 01/01/2010

Trampling and recreation. Habitat loss.

  • 01/01/2010

None.

  • 01/01/2010

None.

  • 01/01/2010

None.

  • 01/01/2010

Additional studies of the taxonomic status and distinctiveness of Sabal miamiensis are greatly desired. Surveys of remaining patches of habitat should be undertaken to locate remaining plants, if any still survive.

  • 01/01/2010

Not applicable until living collections can be found.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Sabal miamiensis
Authority Zona
Family Arecaceae
CPC Number 5003
ITIS 520654
USDA
Common Names Miami palmetto | scrub palmetto
Associated Scientific Names Sabal miamiensis | Sabal etonia
Distribution Historically, Sabal miamiensis was collected from Miami, Kendal, Coconut Grove, and islands of suitable habitat known as the Everglades Keys (not to be confused with the Florida Keys) (Small 1903, USF
State Rank
State State Rank
Florida S1
Habitat

Miami pine rockland. Deep, sandy coastal oak scrub pockets (very little remaining) on outcroppings of oolitic limestone (USFWS 1986).

Ecological Relationships

None known.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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