Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Mention saw palmetto in late summer and you might get negative responses ranging from “That unfriendly thicket?” to “How can I control it?” to “How can I keep those berry pickers off my land?” You might also hear a diversity of positive responses: “Great habitat and food for wildlife”, “A miracle drug”, “A beautiful landscape plant”, or maybe “Florida's next great industry”. It may seem hard to believe that one plant could illicit such a diversity of feelings. What is saw palmetto? Saw palmetto is a native palm that ranges from South Carolina to Florida and west to Louisiana. It is nowhere more abundant than it is in Florida's fire-dominated pine forests. Saw palmetto differs from other palms in that its trunk typically sprawls across the ground and only rarely reaches upwards to a height of six to twelve feet. The name 'saw palmetto' comes from the sawtooth-like rows of spines that fringe each saw palmetto frond. Throughout Florida, the spiny-stemmed evergreen fronds of saw palmetto are easy to recognize and an important component of natural ecosystems.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For the Wild Things, I’m Dr. Jerry Jackson.