Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Saw palmetto is a valuable and often used landscape plant in Florida. Because it is native, it is tolerant of our sandy soils, periodic drought conditions, and salt spray. It also does well in either full sun or partial shade and is tolerant enough of cold that it occurs abundantly throughout the state. Although it is hearty, saw palmetto is hard to transplant and for landscaping, it's best to purchase nursery plants grown from seed. In the spring, saw palmetto produces two foot long clusters of fragrant, creamy, velvety flowers from the growing tip at the base of fronds. Under natural conditions, flowers often appear just after a fire on saw palmettos that otherwise appear to have been destroyed, testament to the toughness and resilience of the plant and to the fact that much of its trunk is underground and thus protected from fire. This underground stem often branches, sending up new stems that result in the dense thickets that often characterize saw palmetto. Saw palmetto stems also run along the surface of the ground, making mowing difficult and relegating this plant to borders and areas where a vegetative screen is desired.
'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.