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Treasure Coast Triva- Trees of the Tropics

Palm Trees are symbolic of Florida’s natural landscape, but they aren’t necessarily alike. Test your knowledge of the wide variety of these iconic “trees of the tropics.”

You can find dozens of species of palm trees throughout the state but only ____ is/are native to Florida.

  1. 2

  2. 6

  3. 12

  4. 1

Scrub Palmetto (above)

Buccaneer Palmetto (above)

Silver Palmetto (above)

The answer is C.

Only 12 species of palm trees are native to Florida. These are Buccaneer Palm, Cabbage Palm, Dwarf Palmetto, Everglades Palm, Needle Palm, Thatch Palm, Silver Palm, Royal Palm, Saw Palmetto, Miami Palm, Scrub Palmetto, and Key Thatch. In contrast, there are more than 2,500 species of palms around the world and most of them can be grown here in Florida!


Some palm trees are native to Florida while others are endemic, meaning they can only be found in Florida. The two endemic species are:

  1. Cabbage Palm and Saw Palmetto

  2. Buccaneer and Silver Palm

  3. Miami Palm and Scrub Palmetto

  4. Royal Palm and Key Thatch

Scrub Palmetto (above)

The answer is C. Scrub Palmettos (Sabal etonia) and Miami Palms (Sabal miamiensis) are Florida’s only endemic species. Scrub Palmetto is common throughout Florida, though easy to mistake for other species. Miami Palms are rare and considered extinct in the wild but are still cultivated and sold as ornamentals by many nurseries.


Coconuts come from palm trees but there are also other popular food items produced by palm trees which include which of the following:

  1. Dates

  2. Acai

  3. Pindo Fruit

  4. Wine

  5. All of the above

The answer is E.

Dates, like coconuts, are some of the most common edible fruits from palm trees. Acai is a popular berry-like drupe that looks much like a grape but is nearly black in color with flavor that many describe as a cross between blackberries and unsweetened chocolate. Pindo fruit, also known as Jelly Palm Fruit, is orange and about the size of a cherry. Raw jelly palm fruits taste like apricots or exotic pineapple and banana. Round, ripe jelly palm ‘berries’ are often made into a sweet, tart jelly. Palm wine, though technically not wine, is produced from the sap of many species. Not unlike the process for extracting maple syrup, palm trees are tapped, producing a milky, sweet non-alcoholic liquid that ferments quickly. Cheers!


Florida and South Carolina designate the same palm species as their official state trees. Which is it?

  1. Saw Palmetto

  2. Sabal Palmetto

  3. Everglades Palm

  4. Silver Palm

The answer is B. Sabal palmetto, commonly known as a sabal or cabbage palm, is the official tree of both states. South Carolina made the designation in 1939 and Florida did so in 1953. Cabbage palms are highly adaptable to a variety of conditions, widely distributed, and grow to around 65 feet. They have a long history of providing food and shelter to animals and humans alike. Early Floridians used the fibrous trunk to build shelters and roofed them with the fronds. The leaf bud portion at the top is considered a delicacy by many. It is often sold in restaurants and stores as “heart of palm.”


Which of these two endemic Florida species is now believed to be extinct in the wild?

  1. Scrub Palmetto

  2. Silver Palm

  3. Miami Palm

  4. Saw Palmetto

Miami Palm

The answer is C.

Miami Palm (Sabal miamiensis) was first described by botanist Scott Zona. The palm is believed to be extinct in its original habitat, which was the coastal plain areas of South Broward and Dade counties due to development. The last known population consisted of a few individuals in Crandon Park, Miami, Florida.


Swamp cabbage is an old-time Florida favorite recipe using palm hearts from Sabal Palmettos. Harvesting them kills the tree.

  1. True

  2. False

The answer is A.

Swamp cabbage is harvested from Florida’s Sabal palmetto tree and, like most any other palm, removing this growth bud does destroy the tree. Swamp cabbage cooks and connoisseurs insist that hearts of palm from the grocery store or harvested from any other species don’t measure up in flavor or texture to those from Florida’s beloved cabbage palm. Fortunately these trees are prolific and abundant. Swam cabbage, a type of stew, originated with Native Americans and grew in popularity on the trails with the Florida Cracker cow hunters in the 1800s during cattle drives across the state. Today there are entire festivals around the state devoted to this tasty dish.


A wildly popular yet controversial dietary supplement is made from the berries of which of these palm trees?

  1. Pindo Palm

  2. Saw Palmetto

  3. Jelly Palm

  4. Snake Palm

Saw palmetto berries

The answer is B.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) produces berries that have been used by Native Americans to make medicine since the early 1900s. The berries are believed by many to treat everything from urinary tract issues to chronic cough. Today it is easily obtained in supplement form and used primarily to treat non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. The evidence is anything but overwhelming, yet the demand driven by the highly profitable supplement industry has caused overharvesting, and thus the designation of the saw palmetto as “commercially exploited.” It is now illegal to pick saw palmetto berries in the wild in Florida and even private property owners must have a permit to harvest and sell them.


All palm trees are evergreen.

  1. True

  2. False

The answer is A.

Unlike deciduous trees which lose their leaves for part of the year, palm trees do not. They do shed foliage, but this is not associated with any particular season, and they continue to grow new green foliage year-round. This should be confused with trees we typically consider “evergreens” or more accurately coniferous species, such as pine trees, with which palms share nothing in common.


Palm trees are not really trees. They belong to the same plant class as:

  1. Cactus

  2. Grass

  3. Shrubs

  4. Succulent

Saw Palmetto

The answer is B.

Palms are more closely related to grass as they belong to the same class known as monocots. At first glance palms may not appear to share much in common with grass but closer inspection reveals some interesting observations. Monocots, unlike dicots, grow from a single cotyledon, which is basically a seed embryo. Look closely at a palm leaf (frond) and you will notice that its veins start from the leaf base and move parallel across the leaf’s length, much like a blade of grass. Palms, like grasses, also have broad and shallow root systems. Genetically speaking, palms have little in common with trees. They do not produce wood or bark and do not form rings as they grow. In fact, the “trunk” of a palm is actually a stem made of fibrous tissue.


Find More Treasure Coast Trivia HERE


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