Native Americans regularly consumed the leaf of this small palm tree as a food, so they were probably not plagues by prostate problems. Now frequently prescribed by doctors in Europe, saw palmetto is a herb with men's troubles in mind.
What it is
The saw palmetto, a small plam tree that grows wild in the southern USA, gets its name from the spiny saw-toothed stems that lie at the base of each leaf. With a life span of 700 years the plant seems almost indestructable, resisting drought, insect infestation and fire. Its medicinal properties are derived from the blue-black berries, which are usually harvested in August and September. This process is sometimes hazardous: harvesters can easily be cut by the razor-sharp leaf stems, and they risk being bitten by the diamondback rattlesnakes that make their homes in the shade of this scrubby plant.