Trees or shrubs chiefly with unbranched trunks growing by the terminal bud. Leaves large, plaited, on sheathing petioles, collected in one terminal cluster. Flowers perfect or polygamous, on a branching spadix bursting from a spathe. Perianth double, 3-merous, hexandrous, ovaries (and styles) 3, distinct or commonly united into 1, each 1-ovuled. Fruit fleshy, 1 - 3-seeded, embryo minute, superficially imbedded in albumen. Fig. 47, d, e.
Genera 73, species 500? of noble aspect and most interesting attributes. They are chiefly tropical, a few advancing into the warmer parts of the Temperate Zone.
The properties and uses of the Palms are of the highest importance and variety. From the drupes of several African Palms, and from the Cocoa Nut, oil is obtained. Other species secrete wax from their leaves. Starch is obtained abundantly from the Sago Palm (Sagus Rumphii) and many other species. Even sugar, and alcoholic liquors, are made from the juice of the unopened spathe of Saguerus saccharifer, Mauritia viniftr, etc. The bud of the Cabbage Palm (Areca oleracea) is boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Among the fruits, are enumerated the date, from Phoenix dactylifera, and the cocoa-nut, from Attalea funifera. etc.
* Flowers all perfect. Ovaries and styles united into 1. Berry single......
* Flowers perfect and staminate. Ovaries and styles distinct. Drupes 3...........................
1. SA'BAL, Adanson. Palmetto. Fls. perfect, sessile, outer pe-lianth (calyx) cup-like, 3-cleft or 3-toothed, inner of 3 subdistinct, ob-long sepals; statu. 6; fil. subulate, their broad bases contiguous or connate, anth. ovate-cordate; ovaries 3, soon united into 1; style 3-angled; fruit a single globular or 3-lobed, 3 (rarely 1 or 2)-seeded dryish berry. - Caudex procumbent or erect, covered by the persistent bases of the leaves. Leaves palmately many-cleft, segm. implicate, 2 cleft at apex, spadix branching, sheathed with many spathe-like bracts. Fls. small, white or greenish. 1 S. Palmetto Loddig. Palmetto. Caudex erect, arborescent; lvs. coriaceous.
glaucous-green, lamina fan-shaped, segments numerous, implicate, united to near the ensiform summits; petioles broad, compressed, nearly the length of the lamina; spadix flexuous, glabrous, much shorter than the leaves; snathe double • style thick, obtuse; berry globular. - Woods along the coast, Ga. and Fla. (scarce N. to the Cape Fear R.). One specimen in the street, front of the P. 0., Charleston. Caudex 20 to 50f high, usually enlarged upwards, and rugged above with the split bases of the old leaf-stalks. The majestic leaves are all terminal, from 1 bud, and 6 to 10f long. Spadix from the same bud, which in early spring is tender and nutritious like the cabbage. The use of the leaves in hat-work, etc, is well known. Jn., Jl (Chamasrops, Mx.)
2 S. Adansoni Guernsent. Dwarf Palmetto. Caudex prostrate; lvs. rigid, glaucous; petioles shorter, naked; spadix strict, glabrous, branchlets remote-flowered; style thick, obtuse, scarcely shorter than the petals; berry depressed-globous. - In low, sandy swamps, along the coast, Neuse river to the Apalachicola, etc, often in wide patches. Spadix slender, about as high (3 to 4f) as the leaves. A compound branch issues from each alternate sheath. Fls. numerous, 1 1/2" long, calyx half as long. Berry bluish black, 3" diam. Jn. - Aug. (S. pumila Walt.)
3 S. serrulata R. & S. Caudex creeping; petioles aculeate-serrate; lamina flabel-iform, 10-12-cleft; spadix thick, flexuous, branchlets densely greyish pubescent; style very slender, subulate; berry oblong-ovoid. - Flat pine barrens, S. Car. to Fla., common. The prostrate rhizomes attain a diam. of 4 to 6', creeping many feet. Leaves 2 or 3f, in dense masses, affording nice shelter for rattlesnakes! Sheaths of the spadix long (2 - 3'), loose. Fls. rather close on the branchlets, 2 1/2" long, calyx 1/3 as long, style single, tapering to a setaceous point. Berry dark blue, 5' diam. Jl, Aug.
β. minima. Every way smaller; lvs. about 7-cleft. - E. Fla. (S. min. Nutt.)
2. CHAMae'ROPS, L. Blue Palmetto. (Gr. on the ground,
a bush.) Fls. polygamo-dicecious, sessile or short pedicellate; calyx 3-parted, cor. (inner perianth) 3-petaled, valvate in bud; stam. 6 or 9; fil. connate at base, anth. oblong or linear-oblong, cordate; ovaries 3, distinct, stigmas 3, sessile, subulate, berries 3, or by abortion fewer, 1-seeded. - Palms acaulescent. Lvs. palmately many-cleft, segm. split at apex with no intervening threads. Petioles aculeate at base and edge. Spadix dense-flowered, fls. yellowish.
C. Hystrix Fraser. Caudex low, making offsets at base; petioles spiny in the axils; spadix very short; drupes ovoid, apex oblique, rather large, hirsute. - In clayey soils around Savannah, to Fla. Caudex creeping, becoming several inches in diam. In the axils of the sheathing leaf-stalk is a thick, matted, brown, canvas-like stipule, and rigid, sharp, needle-shaped spines 3 to 6' long. Spadix enclosed in the radical sheaths, bearing a dense mass of hairy, brown drupes 6" in length. Jn. - Aug.