Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Palmettos are smallish ground hugging palms. They don't shoot for the stars like their taller cousins, the sabal palms. Instead, a palmetto prefers to creep along the ground with a mostly horizontal trunk. They're really called "Saw Palmettos" and if you ever pick your way through a patch of them wearing shorts, you'll understand why. Each frond has a stem lined with teeth designed to scratch legs and arms. They work pretty darn good.
Lately, with the focus on xeriscaping, palmettos have moved from "thing to be bulldozed into oblivion" to "hot landscape item". They've even bred some "improved" varieties. They are a little picky about transplanting, but tough ... (indestructible?) once established.
My Mom swears that the reason I was born at 10 pounds, 1 ounce is that she grubbed palmettos out of their homestead while she was pregnant with me. All her work transferred into prenatal exercise for developing FC. That's the theory anyway.
So perhaps I like palmettos for reasons older than me.
If I needed reasons to like palmettos, I could make a long list:
Habitat for the smallish clan ... lizards,snakes, toads, bugs, rabbits, 'dillos, tiger salamanders, etc.
Food plant for deer, squirrel, feral hogs.
Pollen source for insects, especially honey bees.
Soil builder ... the constant production and breakdown of fronds provides rich black soil in the palmetto patch.
Beauty ... especially in a shady spot where they reach up just a few feet for some light.
Fire toughness ... bring it on, palmettos can survive almost any natural fire.
Possible medicinal uses ... but as unsubstantiated "supplements" mostly.
Care free landscape plant.
Great source of thatch for blinds or little kid forts.
Source of excellent hot dog roasting sticks.
The sound of rain on their fronds.
I guess you could say, I'm a fan.