SEBASTIAN, Fla. (TND) — Harvest season in Florida includes berries from a tree that WebMD says “is used to make medicine,” and authorities are reminding folks not to take anything for free.
The tree is called saw palmetto and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office announced it arrested at least 15 people caught illegally harvesting the stuff. It also said it recovered hundreds of pounds of illegally harvested berries since last month.
The sheriff’s office called the berry a natural supplement and said it’s sold to people for health benefits.
But it added, “Unfortunately, some folks like plunder state and private property.”
Those on the wrong side of the law face charges including trespassing, theft, and property damage.
According to the sheriff’s office, some of that damage, like cutting fences and posts, has even caused livestock to wander onto roadways.
Saw palmetto seems to lower the amount of pressure on the tubes that carry urine in males,” WebMD said. “Saw palmetto also might prevent testosterone from being converted to a more potent form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Reduced levels of DHT might help prevent some types of hair loss.”
But it’s not a cure-all.
According to WebMD, “there is no good scientific evidence” for using saw palmetto fruit for prostate conditions, male-pattern baldness, or sexual dysfunction.