Saw palmetto honey is gourmet honey that may soon run out of stock. There is plenty of history to this rare honey that is more prolific than its delicious taste and interesting medicinal value.
On April 2, 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer and first government of Puerto Rico, discovered an unknown island past the Bahamas Islands. The coast was lush and had rich foliage, and so the explorer decided to call it La Florida, which of course today is the state of Florida. The name means “land of flowers”.
Common legend says Ponce de Leon came looking for the fabled Fountain of Youth that was said to have existed along the coasts of Florida. Historical sources seem to doubt if that was indeed Ponce de Leon’s real intention for coming, but whatever it was, the Spanish explorer certainly noticed the saw palmetto trees that grew abundantly all over the land he just discovered. Perhaps the legend of the Fountain of Youth had spurned from the saw palmetto, which meant “spring of life” in the native tongue.
No doubt the conquerors heard about what the native Indians were saying about the saw palmetto berries and how they ate the berries to cure urinating problems and increased libido. Ancient medicine men crushed the berries and used the extract to cure sicknesses such as cold, cough and fever.
Today, much of the saw palmetto foliage that Ponce de Leon saw is nowhere to be found. Thousands of acres of palmettos have been destroyed in place of modern infrastructure, tall buildings and city development. There are just enough palmetto palm trees in Florida today to produce berries and honey for commercial use, growing from Sarasota to Miami. This stretch is known as the “palmetto belt”.
Saw palmetto is also known as the American dwarf palm tree since it only grows to as tall as 6 feet. Some varieties, though, could grow as high as 20 ft tall and live for more than 700 years.
The trunk actually “crawls” on the ground and the palm head shoots up as it bears its berries only once in a year. Saw palmetto grows naturally in winter-free Florida and other states including South Carolina and Texas, thanks to honey bees for pollinating new saw palmetto blossoms.
Once a year, the honey bees get very busy and it is during this time that the gourmet saw palmetto honey is harvested. In the past, not many people outside Florida could get to taste this nutritious honey that is said to carry all the therapeutic benefits of saw palmetto, which includes increased breast milk production, enhanced female breasts, and prevention of hair loss.
Today, saw palmetto honey is sold around the United States, as it remains to be the most popular kind of honey in Florida. Raw, unprocessed honey contains 22 amino acids, with over 5,000 enzymes, 7 vitamins belonging to the B complex group, and antioxidants, which function to eliminate free radicals in the body. These antioxidants also help in the growth of new tissues. A bottle (16 oz.) of pure, unprocessed saw palmetto honey is worth around $6.00 to $7.00.