The Cabbage Palm is the Florida State Tree. This member of the palm family is named for the large bud or "cabbage" at the top of the trunk, which can be eaten as a vegetable. The loss of the bud causes the death of the palm.
Palms do not grow like pines, oaks, and other trees. Once the trunk starts to elongate, there is very little increase in girth. A cross section of the trunk shows the internal structure to be homogeneous; on the other hand, a cross-section of the trunk of an oak would show inner, darker heartwood and outer, paler sapwood, both with growth rings created by an annual increase in girth.
The Cabbage Palm grows from 50 feet to 80 feet in mature height, with a straight clear trunk up to two feet in diameter, covered with shallow ridges and fissures. In many individuals, the old petiole bases persist, giving the trunk a rough appearance. The palm grows in a variety of habitats, from moist to dry, throughout the state.
The palm leaves, known as "fronds," are nine to fourteen feet long, four to six feet of which is the stout, unarmed petiole. The blades are from five to eight feet long, deeply divided to a partial midrib (costapalmate) at the base. The segments are narrow, with long, threadlike filaments along their edges. The small white flowers are borne in huge, branching panicles from among the leaves. The fruit is a drupe about one-third of an inch in diameter, with a fleshy coating and a hard brown seed.
The "wood" is light, soft, pale brown, and containing numerous hard fibers. The trunks are used for pilings and sawed into disks for ornamental table tops. Baskets, mats and hats can be woven from the fronds.