The reason that Serenoa repens has the common name of saw palmetto is because of the plants leaves. On the edges the plant looks like an actual saw. It has spikes that run along the side of it. It is an interesting adaptation!
Why is Saw Palmetto so different from the other plants around it?
One answer to this is phylogeny. Let me explain, Serenoa repens is a palm and its ancestors are palms.
So therefore, it is believed that this puts the plant under certain constraints to have similar characteristics despite what other plants around it are like.
So instead of conforming to peer pressure saw palmetto does its own thing and acts like a palm! To learn more about a close associate of Serenoa repens, check out Sabal mexicana.
Photo Above taken by Ted Bodner,
Southern Weed Science Society,
How long have humans been using Saw Palmetto?
For a long time! Did you know that the Mayans used saw palmetto? They did; they used it as a tonic. Other people found uses for it too. For example, the Seminoles used the berries of Serenoa repens as an antiseptic.
Humans have been using saw palmetto as a food source for a long time too! Even before Columbus landed, different groups of people from Native Americans to the Spanish have used it for its nutritional value. Oddly enough, it was even used to make soda in the 1900's. Who would have thought?!
Photo above taken by Karan A. Rawlins,
University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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