|Session III: Posters
||Abstract #: 97301
SAW PALMETTO (SERENOA REPENS) (BARTR.) SMALL: AN ECONOMICALLY IMPORTANT PLANT OF FLORIDA
Judith R. Hicklin
Florida International University, Department of Biological Sciences, University Park, Miami, FL 33199
Saw palmetto is an abundant understory plant of many Florida plant communities. A long history of medicinal use (against benign prostate swelling) along with renewed interest in herbal medicine makes saw palmetto a plant of economic interest today. The typical price for dried fruits is $0.10-0.15 per pound. Saw palmetto quite produces a large number of flowers but sets few fruits. Four factors limiting fruit production have been identified: 1) absence of fire, 2) availability of pollinators, 3) herbivory, and 4) disease. Fire stimulates flower production in the first year, but in post-fire years 3-5, flowering and fruiting are diminished. Availability of pollinators is influenced by site, season, and weather. Direct observation of flower visitors (most commonly Hymenoptera) also revealed that dense undergrowth can hide inflorescences from potential pollinators Herbivory by the larvae of Litoprosopus futilis
(Lepidoptera) can severely damage emerging inflorescences, thereby preventing flower and fruit production. A fungal pathogen, not yet identified, causes abortion of developing fruits.