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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Cabbage Palm: Human Use

Cabbage palm has probably been used by humans for thousands of years. The plant gets its common name from the tender, edible portion of the central bud that can be cut from the tree and eaten raw or cooked. The taste and texture is said to be similar to cabbage. (Unfortunately, cutting the central meristem kills the tree.) Seminole Indians made homes roofed with cabbage palm fronds and wove baskets, mats, and hats from strips of leaves. The also used the fiber from young leaf bases for making brushes. Early European settlers in the southeast used cabbage palm trunks as logs for cabin walls and dock pilings.

Today, the most common use for cabbage palm is as a landscaping tree. The plants are slow to grow from seed, so full-grown trees are commonly transplanted and installed for landscaping. The central bud and palm fronds are also gathered and sold to churches to make Palm Sunday crosses.

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