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Southwest Florida Research & Education Center

Southwest Florida Research & Education Center

Saw Palmetto Berries

The saw palmetto plant (known scientifically as Serenoa repens) is a small palm native to the southeastern United States and grows wild in Florida’s natural areas. It is a slow-growing, clumping, multi-trunked palm that typically grows 5 to 10 feet tall and spreads 4 to 10 feet wide. The plant produces small berries that are an important food source for wildlife species and are commonly harvested for medicinal purposes.

Saw palmetto berries are typically harvested in late summer to early fall, usually from August to October when they are ripe. Harvesters usually look for berries that have turned from green to blue-black in color. Harvesting involves hand-picking the berries, which grow in clusters on the plant.

In Florida, new regulations regarding the harvesting of saw palmetto berries will go into effect July 1, 2024. Harvesters need permits or licenses to collect berries. Harvesting berries from someone else’s land without their written permission (i.e. “poaching”) and buying “poached” berries will be considered a felony offense. Check with local authorities and/or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for updated regulations or guidelines regarding harvesting and buying saw palmetto berries.

Sustainable harvesting practices are essential to ensure the long-term viability of saw palmetto populations. Overharvesting can deplete natural populations and disrupt the ecosystem. Harvesters should follow guidelines to minimize impact, such as leaving some berries behind for wildlife and ensuring that harvesting is done in a sustainable manner.

Saw palmetto berries are an important natural resource in Florida, both ecologically and economically, and responsible harvesting practices are crucial to preserve their populations for future generations and wildlife species.

Saw palmetto leaves and fruit
Photo credit: SFRC, University of Florida

New law pertaining to the harvest, sale and purchase of Saw Palmetto Berries
Section 581.189, Florida Statutes

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FDACS Saw Palmetto Berry Page

Permit Application (pdf)

Online Portal for Electronic Submission

FDACS Contacts:

FDACS Division of Plant Industry (DPI)

Phone: 1-888-397-1517


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