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The Southeastern tribes distinguished the realm of the plant spirits from that of the animals on the basis of their different attitudes toward man. Animal spirits generally felt abused by man and had to be offered careful ritual thanks when hunted or they would inflict serious illness on the hunter. Plants, on the other hand, took a benign view toward man and offered themselves to people as a variety of foods and medical cures.

          The cabbage palm, or sabal palm, was the most widespread native palm in the Southeast. Its name derives from the fact that the tender inner shoots can be eaten either raw or cooked, like a cabbage. It favors low, moist ground, often along the twisting bayous and waterways of the Gulf Coast.