Native to the US Southeast from Texas to southern Virginia, dwarf palmetto can bring a touch of the tropics to regions far afield from any coconuts or mangos. This well-known strain comes from McCurtain County, Oklahoma, and seedlings have been known to survive temperatures as low as -24 degrees Fahrenheit! Our seeds come from plants growing in New Jersey, produced by our friend Joe Kiefer of Triple Oaks Nursery in Franklinville.
This species is more than just a beautiful statement piece for your front yard: it's an edible perennial with a long history of use as food, medicine, construction material, and fiber. The thin fruit surrounding the large seed is edible and slightly sweet, raw or cooked (it's considered an "acquired taste" however, due to some flavors that are hard to put your finger on — we find they taste similar to their cousin, the date). The young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and the large fleshy leaf buds are cooked as a vegetable too. Fresh root slices have apparently been "baked and eaten as bread," though we haven't tried this. A decoction of dried root is said to be a treatment for high blood pressure and kidney problems, while the fresh juice has been rubbed into sore eyes as a counter-irritant (according to Plants for a Future). The dried leaves can be used for roof thatching, or woven to make baskets or mats (or, in a pinch, hats!).
This plant is surprisingly easy to grow from seed, and it's fun to watch it develop into a large specimen in just a few years. Enjoy!
Note: Since we only have a limited amount of seeds, we are offering these without germination testing. Please contact us if you're unsatisfied. We recommend planting them all this year.