9 Arizona Palm Trees (Native & Common Varieties)

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Written By Thomas Pitto

Propagation Expert & Permaculture Enthusiast

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Home » Arizona » 9 Arizona Palm Trees (Native & Common Varieties)

The hot and dry climate of Arizona lends itself perfectly to the cultivation of palm trees.

Whilst it could be easy to assume that there are plenty of native palms to Arizona, it’s not the case.

However, the climate does lend itself to palm cultivation, and there are plenty of species that thrive in the unforgiving climate of AZ.

Let’s take a look at some of the palm varieties you can grow in AZ.

9 Palms You Can Grow In Arizona

1. Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)

Date Palm Lyrae Willis
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Whilst there are at least a dozen palms that can be considered date palms, Phoenix dactylifera is the true date palm as it’s the only one that produces edible dates. These fruits have nourished people in North Africa and the Middle East for millennia.

The tolerance of the date palm to extreme heat, drought, and mild frost makes them perfect for the climate and hardiness zones of Arizona. Its appearance is perfect if you want to create a true desert oasis feel in your yard.

Growing date palms requires temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 C) with pollination taking place at 95 Fahrenheit (35C.) Date palms require room to grow as the roots are surface spreaders so they can gather groundwater. The date palm has a thin and roughly textured trunk and a wide-spreading canopy.

The dark-green leaves are ascending from the center, and curve outwards, lending a semi-formal appearance to the palm if you prune it annually in spring. For fruit production, you’ll need both a male and female tree.

Suckers will need to be removed to retain a single-trunked specimen. The date palm can grow in sand, loam, or even clay, and needs water when flowering and fruiting.

Other Common Names: Date Palm

Growing Zones: 8-11

Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring

2. Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis) Trees
Image by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

The Canary Island Date Palm is a large and wide-spreading palm of large proportions. The large, dark green leaves have orange midribs and arch out from the center, giving the palm a fountain-like appearance.

The first decade of the canary island palms life, it remains short, squat, and round-ovular, hence its other common name, the pineapple palm. Upon maturity, the palm retains a columnar form.

Female trees produce clusters of orange/yellow fruit in the fall. They are slow-growing trees, and will likely only reach 10 ft tall in their first 15 years. The leaves are large; often between 8 and 20 ft long. Young plants require good, regular irrigation to help them establish deep roots. This can be reduced as trees mature.

The canary island palm also has a higher tolerance to cold temperatures than other palms and can survive temperatures down to 14 Fahrenheit. They can be grown in all kinds of soil, from loam to sand and even heavy clay, but well-drained soil is preferred to protect the tree from rot.

Whilst the fruit are edible they are in fact very unappealing, and are best left for the birds and their ornamental value.

Other Common Names: Pineapple Palm

Growing Zones: 9a-11

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: March to May

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

3. Senegal Date Palm (Phoenix reclinata)

Senegal Date Palm (Phoenix reclinata)
Image by Puddin Tain via Flickr

The Senegal date palm produces a dense and feathery head of fronds, and its leaves are much smaller than the date palm and Canary Island palm. Basal suckers mean that this palm often forms clusters with several trunks per group.

As they mature, these trunks tend to lean away from one another. Reported hybrids between this and the Canary Island palms are even bigger in size.

The crown has 15-30 dark green to yellow pinnate leaves. The bark is dark and ringed by scars of former leaves and the lower part sees thick masses of roots.

The Senegal date palm forms a nice specimen in micro climates of low elevation, desert areas and provides a distinctly tropical feel. This palm can suffer severe frost damage if the temperature drops below the mid 20’s Fahrenheit.

Whilst the fruit produced from female trees are edible, they are more fleshy with a larger pit, and not as sweet as commercial dates. The inflorescence can measure over 3 ft and can be consumed as a vegetable.

The Senegal Date Palm prefers full sun and well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Wild Date Palm

Growing Zones: 9b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 8-13 ft wide

4. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Golden Cane Palm Lyrae Willis
Images by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Areca palm is a common indoor plant known for its ability to improve indoor air quality. The smooth golden trunk of the tree adds to its attractiveness. The delicate aspect of this palm may make you think it difficult to care for, but it requires little maintenance.

It even thrives in the scorching Phoenix sun bit will prefer partial shade. It looks good as a potted plant, in the patio or directly in the ground as an evergreen hedge, and adds a flowing, tropical feel to the landscape.

Areca palms are medium-sized palms, that can be lined up against a fence for a privacy screen to create your very own tropical retreat. They also have low water requirements, thrive on neglect once established, and aren’t too picky on soil type.

Other Common Names: Cane Palm, Golden Cane Palm, Butterfly Palm, Yellow Palm

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20-35 ft tall and 12-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

5. California Fan Palm (Washingtonia fillifera) – Native Palm Tree

Californian Palm
Image by JOE BLOWE via Flickr

The California Fan Palm is a heavy and dense palm crowned with large, fan-shaped leaves. The foliage stands erect and spreads from petioles when young. Maturity sees the leaves droop down onto the smooth trunk and form an attractive thatch.

Left untrimmed, the California palm will retain its dry fronds all the way to the ground. It’s native to low-lying desert regions of California, and Arizona, where it’s found in Palm Canyon at the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, in between Quartzite and Yuma.

The trunk of the California Palm is thick; measuring between 2-4 ft wide. The sheer size of this palm can easily dominate smaller landscapes, so may not be suited for smaller yards. Another potential downside of this palm is the thatch; it can be a fire risk and yearly trimming can be costly.

Whilst it is drought tolerant, it prefers infrequent, deep watering in well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Desert Fan Palm, California Palm

Growing Zones: 8b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 30-80 ft tall and 10-12 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

6. Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata)

Mexican Blue
Image by Megan Hansen via Flickr

The Mexican Blue Palm is a striking tree with silvery/blue arching leaves that emerge from the erect, columnar trunk. Creamy white, mildly fragrant flowers appear on flower stalks that can measure more than 18ft in length.

Upon maturity, it develops a sturdier trunk and the leaves turn a less eye-catching shade of blue. For this reason, some people consider it more attractive when young.

The blue color of the foliage stands out beautifully against the desert scenery of AZ. The Mexican Blue Palm is a slow-growing palm that tolerates extremes of heat, cold, and wind, making it well suited to many areas of AZ.

It’s tolerant of varying conditions, including poor soils and drought, but does best with regular irrigation at large intervals.

Other Common Names: Blue Hesper Palm, Gray Goddess, Mexican Blue Fan Palm, Short Blue Hesper

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 25-30 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

7. Guadalupe Fan Palm (Brahea edulis)

Guadalupe Fan Palm (Brahea edulis)
Image by Joe Blowe via Flickr

The Guadalupe fan palm is similar to the Mexican Blue Palm, but is faster growing and has less spectacular inflorescence. The medium to large green leaves retains their hue throughout the winter.

The flowers appear on 4-5 ft long stalks and are followed by heavy clusters of small, black edible fruit, which can be eaten fresh or used to make preserves.

The size of this palm makes it more suitable for small yards than Washingtonias. Another benefit for the homeowner is that the dead leaves drop off by themselves, require no expensive trimming.

This leaves a clear trunk with attractive scars where the leaves used to be. It does best with deep, infrequent irrigation and will tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Other Common Names: Palma de Guadalupe

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 8-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

8. Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffianum)

Queen Palm Syagrus romanzoffiana - leaves flowers - Sin Medieterraneo .cultivation 2020-04-30
Image by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Queen Palm is a standout for its long, regal fronds which lend an airy feel to any landscape. The light green fronds can reach 10-15 ft long, and the smooth, straight trunk is marked by prominent leaf rings. The Queen palm creates a lush, tropical feel to wherever it’s planted, such as near pools or large courtyards.

The Queen Palm will grow in full sun to part shade. It’s cold sensitivity means it can’t be planted above 2500 m elevation in AZ.

It’s also sensitive to high winds and can suffer extreme damage on exposure, so be sure to keep in mind when planting. It’s also a fast growing species, capable of growing between 2 and 6 ft a year once established.

Other Common Names: Cocos Palm

Growing Zones: 9b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 20-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

9. Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

Mexican Fan Palm Lyrae Willis
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

The mexican fan palm is a fast growing palm well suited to the high temperatures and low humidity of AZ. The crown is more compact than Washingtonia filifera, but is somewhat more elegant. The fronds are bright green and fan shaped and the trunk flares at the base, then forms a columnar shape above.

The dry leaf thatch of the Mexican Fan Palm is not as uniform as on the California Fan Palm, and is often removed, or left to hang naturally.

Natural hybrids form readily between Washingtonia robusta and fiifera meaning there’s often a large variation in appearance. The ease of transplanting this palm have made it popular for those after a fast tropical touch to their landscape. It’s tolerant of extremely poor conditions but will grow best with regular irrigation in well-drained soil.

The Mexican Fan Palm can be damaged by cold near the limits of its hardiness, but will usually regrow a new frond-head by the middle of spring.

Other Common Names: Washington Palm, Skyduster, Thread Palm

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 40-100 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

Tropical Feeling

Palm trees evoke a soothing sense of calm for many people, and luckily the somewhat inhospitable climate of Arizona still makes their cultivation possible. The high heat and humidity means that many species of palms thrive in AZ, notwithstanding the poor soil conditions.

So there’s a palm for every yard to help you create your own oasis at home and reap the myriad of benefits that planting a palm tree can provide.

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Thomas Pitto

Propagation Expert & Permaculture Enthusiast

Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn't hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.

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