Serenoa repens more commonly known as palmette of Florida or how Saw Palmetto, is an ornamental plant appreciated in phytotherapy as a natural remedy effective in the treatment of prostate disorders and inflammation of the urinary tract.
General characteristics of the Serenoa repens – Florida palm
There Serenoa repens is a palm of the family of Arecaceae native to South America widespread in the natural state in dense thickets along the coasts and coasts of the south-east of the United States. It is grown as an ornamental plant with satisfactory results in all regions of Italy.
The Florida palmette is an evergreen plant with a strong and deep root that keeps it firmly on the ground.
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Even if it grows slowly, in full vegetative vigor it develops a stem rich in leaves that can reach 4 meters in height.
The leaves they are dark green in color and 1 to 2 meters long. They are palmate in the shape of a fan and composed of about 20 leaflets 50-100 cm long with a linear shape, smooth but cutting edge, pointed apex and petiole with thorns.
THE flowers, are gathered in panicle inflorescences about 60 cm long, of a white or yellowish color which in the flowering period sprout at the base of the leaves. The inflorescences are pleasantly scented and are visited by bees, which collect nectar and pollen from its flowers.
THE fruits they are ellipsoidal drupes similar to olives and from green when they are immature they turn to reddish brown or blackish when fully ripe. They are rich in a fluid oily substance and an unpleasant odor. They are not edible for humans but are a source of food for animals. The seeds, unique for each fruit, have an ellipsoidal shape and are just over 1 cm in size.
Serenoa repens like other palm varieties blooms in late spring.
Cultivation of Serenoa repens
Although it resists partial or total shade, this plant needs bright and sunny exposure throughout the day to grow strong and lush. It does not tolerate temperatures below -5 ° C and therefore must be adequately protected during the winter months. It also suffers from the climate with persistent humidity.
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While adapting to common garden soil, La Serenoa prefers loose soil mixed with sand and therefore well drained.
It is a plant that, despite showing good resistance to drought, should be regularly watered when the soil tends to become arid to avoid the sagging of the leaves, especially in the very hot months.
For a correct and balanced growth, the Serenoa repens must be fertilized once a month, from the beginning of spring until late summer by administering to its feet, every 2 months, a slow-release granular rich in macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and with a good percentage of microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B) and magnesium (Mg ).
Serenoa repens: cultivation in pots
As it is a plant that grows very slowly, a few centimeters a year, it can also be grown in pots as long as it is wide and deep as it does not like transplants. As a soil it is advisable to use that mixed with a good dose of sand to facilitate the drainage of the watering that must be practiced regularly from spring to autumn when the soil is completely dry and then drastically reduced in the winter months. The Serenoa repens grown in pots as it is even more sensitive to the cold, in winter it must be wintered under a canopy, so as not to leave it exposed to rain and frost.
Repotting is not recommended as the Serenoa does not like transplants so to renew the soil it is enough to replace at least 3 cm of the superficial one. Using a gardening shovel, the soil is loosened very gently so as not to damage the roots, then it is removed and the same fresh and fertile quantity is added.
Multiplication of Serenoa repens
The plant reproduces by seed and by agamic way is propagated by dividing the basal suckers.
For sowing, fresh seeds are required soaked in water for 5 – 7 days, the time required for the external envelope that protects them from reaching a soft consistency.
The seeds are buried in a specific peaty substrate preferably mixed with sand, kept constantly humid for about 2 months and at a constant temperature of 28 ° C. To facilitate the germination of the seeds, it is recommended to wrap the container in a plastic bag.
The new plants obtained from the germination of the seeds must be transferred to single pots and reared in them for at least 2 years before the final planting.
Multiplication by division of suckers or basal tufts
The division of the tufts is carried out in spring, in April-May, by placing the suckers that form at the base of the plant to root in a pot containing soil, peat and sand in equal parts. Shoots that have at least 2-3 leaves should be chosen.
The pots must be kept in a protected place where the minimum temperature does not drop below 10 ° C and for the first 2-3 months the soil must always be kept slightly moist. The young plants of Serenoa thus obtained must be grown in pots before planting them outdoors.
Planting or planting
The plant should be planted in late spring, from the end of May to June.
A hole about 40-50 cm deeper than the pot is dug, half filled with expanded clay or gravel to prevent the roots from coming into direct contact with the drainage water. Then the plant is placed with all the earthen bread. More soil is added and immediately after compacting it, a generous dose of water is added.
Harvesting of the fruits of the Serenoa
The parts used for the richness of the active ingredients are the globose berries, which are harvested in autumn when they are dark in color and therefore ripe at the right point.
Harvesting is done by hand by detaching the whole bunch of berries with a sharp scissors which are then separated, carefully selected and seeded with special machinery. The pulp obtained is dried and then stored or processed for the permitted uses.
Serenoa repens does not require pruning. Any leaves that are dry or damaged by parasites are removed by cutting them off with well-sharpened and disinfected shears at the base of the stem.
Pests and diseases of the Serenoa repens
The dwarf palm is a rustic and long-lived plant that is generally not attacked by common animal parasites such as aphids and scale insects.
Sometimes it is attacked by the whitefly which forms whitish deposits along the leaf peduncles. It is also resistant to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew or white sore and rust.
Cures and treatments
As for the treatments it is advisable to mulch the base of the plant with coarse gravel to limit the loss of water during the summer months and to protect it from the cold of winter, especially if young and if the winter climate is very harsh. To avoid damage to the leaves, it is advisable to wrap them with a breathable sheet. The plant should be treated with pesticides or antifungals only if in the presence of infestations. Mealybugs can be removed manually with a cotton swab dipped in denatured alcohol.
Uses of Serenoa repens
This plant is widely used as an ornamental in private gardens and public parks, due to its natural tendency to form large, very decorative bushes. It is perfect as a single element, as a ground cover and in a pot to embellish large enough spaces.
Thanks to its robust root system capable of regenerating itself even after fires, La Serenoa is also appreciated as a plant suitable for combating erosion and the desertification of soils. Furthermore, this plant also resists pollution.
In the native places the berries have been consumed since ancient times by local populations as a natural preventive remedy to treat infections and disorders of the urinary and sexual tract. The properties of this plant and its modulating action on the hormonal system are today confirmed by in-depth scientific studies and widely used in phytopharmacy.
Beneficial properties of Serenoa repens
It is a palm rich in active ingredients, sterols, fatty acids, carotenoids, essential oils, polysaccharides, mainly contained in its fruits and therefore very useful for health.
The fruits are used for the production of hydroalcoholic extract or glycerine macerate which carries out its main action on the hormonal system, especially for humans. In fact, the products based on this plant have an antagonistic action on sex hormones and, acting as anti-inflammatory and diuretic, are very effective in the treatment of prostate disorders, inflammation of the urinary tract, bladder, testicles, mammary glands. and also in case of hair loss and in cases of alopecia.
How does the Serenoa work?
The pulp of the fruits of Serenoa contain beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol that inhibits the activity of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, a molecule that stimulates cell proliferation, causing prostatic hypertrophy.
The Serenoa thus inhibiting the capillary permeability promotes urination, the complete emptying of the bladder thus avoiding the onset of all those disorders affecting the …