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Palmetto Moon — Charleston, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County  |  Palmetto Moon

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Palmetto Moon

The palmetto tree is perhaps the most recognized and beloved symbol of our state. That said, many South Carolinians would be surprised to learn that botanists do not consider it a true tree because it lacks a solid wood trunk. However, the flexibility of its trunk, together with its strong root system, enable the palmetto to withstand the fierce winds that so often strike our coastline.

Sabal Palmetto

Benton Henry of Latta, 2003 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The word palmetto derives from the Spanish word palmito, which means little palm. The most common palmetto species seen in South Carolina is the Sabal palmetto, which can grow as high as 65 feet. It is also known as a cabbage palmetto because when it is cooked, the heart of its trunk tastes like cabbage. However, we don’t suggest trying this since removing the heart of a palmetto tree will kill it!

Note: If you are really hankering for some palmetto, you can always shimmy up to very the top of a tree and slice off a piece of its stem. This is also said to taste like cabbage or artichoke.

Our famous trees’ spongy trunks were used to build the walls of Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, then called Fort Sullivan. The trunks successfully absorbed the brutal impact of British cannonballs during the Revolutionary War battle in 1776. Colonel William Moultrie led the soldiers to victory, and the fort was renamed in his honor.

Later, Moultrie designed a flag based on the blue uniforms and white crescent badges which decorated the caps of the fort’s guards. This flag eventually became recognized as South Carolina’s state flag. (Note: Though there are many theories, no one is 100% sure why the guards wore the crescent symbol on their caps.)

History makes this picture especially unique, since photographer Rikki Moye went out to Fort Moultrie to capture this perfect palmetto and crescent moon shot. If the sky were a dark indigo blue, it could practically be a photograph of our state flag!

Learn more about South Carolina State Symbols.

View more pictures of renowned South Carolina trees.

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9 Comments about Palmetto Moon

Patricia Conner says:
July 4th, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Beautiful and great information. I love South Carolina.

Tom E says:
September 1st, 2015 at 11:47 am

In heraldry, a crescent is one of the marks of cadency, or birth order. The crescent is the mark of the second son. Perhaps the flag bears a crescent because Fort Moultrie was garrisoned by the second regiment.

RightOnQue says:
May 19th, 2015 at 2:03 am

Always enjoy this view…

Terry says:
December 17th, 2013 at 6:21 pm

How can I get a copy to frame?

Donna manuele says:
July 17th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

How could I get a copy of this picture to frame for my wall?

Erin says:
May 17th, 2012 at 6:37 pm

How can I get a print of this photo? My husband have to move out of state and even though I have only lived here 2 1/2 years, SC feels like one to me and I want a print hanging in our new home on the west coast

SCIWAY says:
July 5th, 2011 at 7:53 am

Hi Dennis! This page gives a great explanation about the history of our state flag:

Dennis White says:
July 3rd, 2011 at 8:42 am

What is the significance of the moon in the SC flag? Why is it there?

Katherine says:
May 19th, 2011 at 9:38 am

This website is really helpful to my students. When we have projects that need to be done they can ALWAYS count on this website! It really is good and has very helpful information.

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