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Serenoa repens, the saw palmetto, is the sole species currently classified in the genus Serenoa. It has been known by a number of synonyms, including Sabal serrulatum, under which name it still often appears in alternative medicine. It is a small palm, normally reaching a height of around 2-4 m. Its trunk is sprawling, and it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood hammocks. Erect stems or trunks are rarely produced but are found in some populations. It is endemic to the southeastern United States, most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, but also as far inland as southern Arkansas. It is extremely slow growing, and long lived, with some plants, especially in Florida, possibly being as old as 500-700 years.
Additional recommended knowledge
Saw palmetto is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets. The petiole is armed with fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name. The leaves are light green inland, and silvery-white in coastal regions. The leaves are 1-2 m in length, the leaflets 50-100 cm long. They are similar to the leaves of the palmettos of genus Sabal. The flowers are yellowish-white, about 5 mm across, produced in dense compound panicles up to 60 cm long. The fruit is a large reddish-black drupe and is an important food source for wildlife and historically for humans. The plant is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Batrachedra decoctor (which feeds exclusively on the plant).
The genus name honors American botanist Sereno Watson.
Saw palmetto extract
The fruits of the saw palmetto are highly enriched with fatty acids and phytosterols, and extracts of the fruits have been the subject of intensive research for the treatment of urinary tract infections.
The existing literature on S repens for treatment of BPH is limited in terms of the short duration of studies and variability in study design, use of phytotherapeutic preparations, and reports of outcomes. However, the evidence suggests that S repens improves urologic symptoms and flow measures. Compared with finasteride, S repens produces similar improvement in urinary tract symptoms and urinary flow and was associated with fewer adverse treatment events. Further research is needed using standardized preparations of S repens to determine its long-term effectiveness and ability to prevent BPH complications. 
References and external links
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Serenoa". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|