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30 Different Types of Palm Trees & Their Identifying Features


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Many different types of palm trees are found throughout subtropical, tropical, and even temperate regions worldwide.

Palm Trees all belong to the Arecaceae family. The Arecaceae has five subfamilies and 188 currently accepted genera, with approximately 2585 species worldwide.

They are pretty diverse for being a relatively new addition to the plant kingdom, having evolved roughly 100 million years ago.

Most palm tree species are found in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by the Americas, then Africa.

They are a common component of tropical ecosystems worldwide, where many play key ecological roles for numerous other species. In the Amazon region, palm species may comprise six of the ten most common tree species in some forests.

Some species of palms are grown for food crops, including coconut, dates, palm oil, and betel nut, and others are grown for fiber to make wicker furniture, clothing, shelter, and more.

How to Identify Palm Trees (With Photos)

The palms are a uniquely beautiful group of trees. They are not like anything we usually think of as ‘trees,’ and rightly so. They are most closely related to grasses, sedges, and bromeliads.

But they are not at all like a tree either. Like all other monocots, they cannot perform the normal secondary growth required to create wood like other trees.

So, their trunks are not made of wood. Instead, it forms when the leaves mature and die, leaving behind hardened bases of their leaf stalks (petioles), creating a trunk with no bark. This is why they are so uniform and typically have no branches.

Some have leaves that remain attached to the trunk, most have only leaf stalks of varying lengths that remain attached, and many others are “self-cleaning,” producing a smooth trunk with no leaf stalk remnants.

Some species have an additional feature called a crown shaft, or portion extended above the trunk where the leaves and sometimes flowers emerge.

You can identify different species based on these characters.

Intro - 1 Morphology - Three Trunk Types & Crown Shaft - Arecaceae
Images by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0, Krzysztof Golik, CC BY-SA 4.0, and Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Palm trees can also be identified based on leaf characteristics.

They are often described as having palmate (fan-like) or pinnate (feather-like) compound leaves. However, botanically speaking, this is not actually true of most palms. A compound leaf is made of botanically distinct leaflets joined into a single leaf by way of a rachis or costa.

Palms, however, usually have simple leaves arranged spirally at the top of the stem. As they grow, the leaves typically split apart on their folds into individual, uniform segments, resembling a compound leaf with its own characteristic width and length of ‘leaflets’ and degree of splitting.

Some leaves split all the way to the costa (in palmate or costapalmate) or rachis (in pinnate). Fan-shaped or palmate leaves often spit only partway, producing a ‘costapalmate’ leaf unique to the palm family.

Intro - 2 Morphology - Three Types of Leaves - Arecaceae
Images by Lyrae Willis, KATHERINE WAGNER-REISS, CC BY-SA 4.0, and Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Costapalmate leaves are further described as being strongly or weakly costapalmate. Strongly costapalmate leaves have segments joined all along their costa and tend to have a narrow pointy hastula. They tend to curve inwards as though their leaves are being pulled towards the costa.

Weakly costapalmate leaves do not curve inwards and typically have a shorter hastula.

Finally, you can also identify palm trees based on inflorescence, flower, and fruit characteristics. Palm trees typically have tiny flowers tightly packed into usually massive inflorescences. Here I will typically only discuss inflorescences which are much easier to see than the individual flowers.

Palm trees almost always produce drupes – a berry-like fruit with a central pit (think of a cherry with its juicy flesh and central pit). And on rare occasions, they may produce berries or nuts. The size, shape, color, color, and even taste of the fruits are also used to identify them.

Intro - 3 Morphology - Drupes Inflorescences - Arecaceae
Images by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Palms usually grow in tropical to subtropical areas. In the USA, this includes places like Hawaii, California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

Certain species will even survive temperate climates like Connecticut’s zone 5 -7 climate, especially if given some protection in the winter.

Check out USA Planting Zones to find out which palm trees you can grow in your area.

If you want to plant a palm, just like any plant, be sure to compare your chosen site’s soil, light, and moisture to the individual palm tree’s requirements to ensure success.

30 Different Types of Palm Trees & Their Identifying Features

1. Palmetto Palm (Sabal palmetto)

Sabal palmetto (cabbage palm trees)
Image by James St. John, CC BY 2.0

The Palmetto Palm is part of the Sabal genus dating back 77 million years based on fossils found in Texas.

It has 15 – 30 curved glossy green 3 – 4 ft long costapalmate leaves with long fibers hanging between the segments.

It has 3 – 6 ft long smooth leaf stalks, and the hastula, or point where the leaf attaches to the stalk, is long and pointy.

Leaf stalk bases remain attached to the trunk in a characteristic “boots” pattern.

Palmetto Palm Morphology - Boots Hastula - Arecaceae
Images by Skuzbucket and David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0, Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0, text added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

It is a drought, fire, flood, wind, and salt-tolerant tree often found growing near the coastline in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. They do well in areas with hot, humid summers.

Because of the long time period from seedling to adulthood, this popular plant is often transplanted from the wild. Fortunately, its population is still secure overall, even though it’s Critically Imperiled in North Carolina.

Other Common Names: Cabbage Palm Tree, Cabbage Palmetto, Sabal Pam, Carolina Palmetto, Blue Palmetto

Identifying Features: Strongly costapalmate leaves with threadlike fibers between the segments help identify the Palmetto Palm. The smooth petioles and the rough trunk with ‘boots’ of persistent petiole bases in a criss-cross pattern will also help identify it. When young, they can look similar to other dwarf Sabal species, but the latter has a much shorter hastula, weakly costapalmate leaves, and usually no fibers between their segments.

Native Area: Southeastern USA from Texas east to Florida and north to North Carolina, also Cuba, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 70 ft tall, 16 – 20 ft spread

2. Texas Palmetto Palm (Sabal mexicana)

Texas Palmetto Palm Whitney Crenshaw and David Stang
Images by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, CC BY 3.0 us, and David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0

Being a lovely Texas native, Texas Palmetto Palm is very popular in the southern USA. It is also one of the most widespread palms in Mexico.

Its stem, when not maintained, retains the old leaf bases in a characteristic boots pattern.

It has 15 – 30 strongly costapalmate leaves 4.9 – 5.9 ft wide that divide ⅔ of the way to the base into numerous segments with a divided tip.

The leaves attach to their spineless 3 to 4 ft long leaf stalks via a narrowly pointy hastula.

The small bisexual flowers on up to 6 ft long spikes inflorescences are followed by numerous black roundish drupes about ½ inch in diameter.

It grows in well-drained soil of various types, tolerates salt spray, and prefers full sun to partial shade.

It has been known to escape cultivation in suitable habitats but is not considered invasive.

Other Common Names: Texas Palm, Texas Sabal Palm, Palmetto Cabbage, Ro Grande Palmetto, Mexican Palmetto

Identifying Features: The Texas Palmetto Palm is identified by its spineless petioles, strongly costapalmate leaves and long narrow hastula. This is similar to the Palmetto Palm but with a larger crown of larger fan-shaped leaves on a shorter and much stouter trunk, making it appear overall much leafier than its cousin. When young, they can be differentiated from dwarf palmetto palms by their strongly costapalmate leaves and the long narrow hastula.

Native Area: Southern Texas, Mexico (excluding the northwest), south to Nicaragua

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 39 – 59 ft tall, 9.8 – 13 ft spread

3. Dwarf Palmetto Palm (Sabal minor)

Dwarf Palmetto Sabal_minor_at_Port_St._Lucie_Botanical_Garden Wagner-Reiss
Image by KATHERINE WAGNER-REISS, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Dwarf Palmetto Palm is a low-growing shrubby fan palm with a subterranean stem or a single trunk.

It has weakly costapalmate leaves up to 4 ft long, usually longer than the leaf stalk, and has a short hastula. Leaves are divided to about ⅓ their total length into about 40 leaf segments.

It has small yellowish-white flowers in large compound panicles up to 6.6 ft long that extend beyond the leaves, followed by half-inch black drupes.

Dwarf Palmetto Palm Wagner Reiss Stubert
Images by KATHERINE WAGNER-REISS, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, and Kurt Stüber, CC BY-SA 3.0

It is a very hardy palm that grows in any soil type, from sand to clay, in swamps and mountains. It tolerates frost, freezing, drought, and poorly drained soils.

It has not been assessed in most of its native range. Still, it is imperiled and vulnerable at its northern limits in Oklahoma and North Carolina. It is not considered invasive anywhere.

Other Common Names: Dwarf Palmetto, Bush Palmetto

Identifying Features: Dwarf Palmetto’s weakly costapalmate leaves with a short blunt hastula and leaves divided only about ⅓ of their length will help identify it. It is sometimes confused with Sabal Palmetto when it is young, but that one has strongly costapalmate leaves and a very long pointy hastula. Saw Palmetto Palm has a similar shrubby habit, but it branches readily and usually has silvery-white leaves.

Native Area: Southeastern USA from Texas east to North Carolina and south to Florida and Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 2 – 7 ft tall, 2 – 5 ft spread

4. Saw Palmetto Palm (Serenoa repens)

Saw Palmetto Palm Serenoa_repens_22zz
Image by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Saw Palmetto Palm is an unusual palm with highly branched stems, extremely rare among palms.

It is a shrubby clustering palm with subterranean, prostrate, or rarely erect stems covered with persistent leaf sheaths.

Its round costapalmate leaves are divided more than half their length into narrow, stiff, single-fold leaf segments with a divided tip. They range in color from light green to silvery-white.

Its leaf stalks are armed with numerous spiny teeth all along its margins.

It has bisexual flowers on erect inflorescences that are often hidden by the leaves. These are followed by large reddish-black drupes that are an important food source for wildlife.

It is a slow-growing cold-hardy palm, with some specimens living 500 – 700 years. It is cultivated from rhizome fragments, so wild harvesting is not a concern.

It grows in any well-drained soil in full sun to full shade and is highly tolerant of salt.

Other Common Names: None known

Identifying Features: The branching shrubby habit of the Saw palmetto Palm will help quickly identify it since this is fairly unique among palms. It can further be identified by its light green to silvery-white costapalmate leaves with divided tips. It is sometimes mistaken for the Dwarf Palmetto Palm, but that one always has a single stem, and its leaves are never silvery-white or very light green.

Native Area: Endemic to subtropical and tropical southeastern USA from Louisiana east to South Carolina and south to Florida

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 7 – 10 ft tall, 4 – 10 ft spread

5. Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

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

Mexican Fan Palm is a very tall palm reaching up to 100 ft with slender stems to 2 ft at the base but tapering to a much narrower top.

The trunk is a bit unusual in that its dead leaves fold down against the trunk instead of dropping off. This forms a thick skirt of dead leaves around the trunk if not maintained.

Their lovely rich green 3 – 5 ft long costapalmate leaves are divided about halfway to their base with slightly drooping and divided tips. The leaf stalks have characteristic spiny margins.

Its white flowers appear on huge pendulous 10 ft long inflorescences. It produces abundant small edible black pea-sized drupes.

It is easy to grow and is one of the most widely cultivated palms worldwide. It grows best in full sun in well-drained soil.

In riparian areas, it can become invasive and was assessed as a Moderate Risk in California.

Other Common Names: Mexican Washington Palm, Skyduster

Identifying Features: Leaves that remain attached to the trunk and spiny-edged leaf stalks are a quick way to identify the Mexican Fan Palm. They are also hermaphroditic trees that have bisexual flowers, uncommon in the palm family. It is similar to its cousin, the California Fan Palm, but the latter has a thicker trunk and duller green leaves, while the Mexican Fan Palm has glossier green leaves and a thick tomentum covering the lower side of the hastula.

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

Native Area: A formerly narrow endemic of western Mexico in Baja California and western Sonora

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 100 ft tall, 8 – 10 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

6. California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

California Fan Palm Gagnon Kenraiz
Images by Bernard Gagnon, Won Work, CC BY-SA 3.0, and Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The California Fan Palm is the only palm native to the western USA.

It has a single solitary stem covered with persistent dry leaves unless maintained.

It has 15 – 30 costapalmate leaves that are 4.9 – 6.6 ft long with long thread-like filaments between the segments. Leaves are a somewhat dull green from a thick layer of wax on their surfaces.

It has very rich green petioles with yellow edges.

The tan or gray trunk is massive compared to its height, unlike most palms, and can grow to 3 ft in diameter at the base and tapers strongly towards the top.

In its natural habitat, it prefers riparian desert areas. It survives mild freezes and frosts.

It is considered secure, though, in Arizona, it is Critically Imperiled where few populations exist. It still needs to be assessed in California, where most native populations are.

Other Common Names: Desert Fan Palm, California Palm, Arizona Fan Palm, American Cotton Palm

Identifying Features: The California Fan Palm can be identified by its thick trunk with an enlarged base and a skirt of dead leaves if not maintained. It is very similar to the Mexican Fan Palm, but it tends to be shorter with a ticker trunk and has duller green leaves covered by a layer of wax. It also lacks the thick tomentum on the lower hastula seen in the Mexican Fan Palm.

Native Area: Southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico, plus a few isolated populations in western Arizona

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 49 – 66 ft (to 82 ft) tall, 10 – 20 ft spread

7. Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

Windmill Palm Nature Hills and Johannsen
Images via Nature Hills and C T Johansson, Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Windmill Palm is a single-stemmed fan palm that has been widely cultivated in China and Japan for thousands of years.

Its costapalmate leaves are divided down to about halfway into 30 – 40 narrow leaf segments. Leaves fan out from its symmetrical crown in a windmill-like shape, giving it its common name.

Its trunk is rough-looking, with hairy black or brown fibers from old leaf bases that remain on the trunk.

It is easy to grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It tolerates drought, wind, and salt and can survive short periods of freezing temperatures down to 5 F. It is very hardy for a palm and will even grow at altitudes up to 8774 ft.

Birds and wildlife readily spread their seeds, and there has been growing speculation that this could become invasive. It has been classified as invasive in Switzerland.

Other Common Names: Chinese Windmill Palm, Chusan Palm, Nepalese Fan Palm

Identifying Features: The Windmill Palm has costapalmate leaves with a semicircular outline that are divided about halfway down into 30-40 narrow leaf segments up to 3 ft long. They have very long leaf stalks and a very rough trunk with layers of coarse black or brown fibers from the remnants of persistent leaf bases. It also produces distinctive ½” diameter kidney-shaped drupes on female trees that are black with a bluish bloom.

Native Area: China, Japan, Myanmar, India

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 30 ft (to 66 ft) tall, 4 – 6 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

8. Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis)

Chinese Fan Palm Arecales-Livistona_chinensis
Image by Emőke Dénes, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Chinese Fan Palm is a medium-sized tree with a rounded crown of fan-shaped leaves.

Its brown or gray trunk is coarse with remnant tissues of old leaf stalks.

It has 40 – 60 costapalmate leaves on leaf stalks up to 6 ft long that are slightly arching and may or may not have spiny teeth on the lower half.

The leaves appear very soft, with narrow elegant dropping tips. It is divided to about half its length, and leaf segments are light green on both surfaces.

Flowers are unusually bisexual and appear in branched inflorescences up to 3.9 feet long that do not extend beyond the crown.

It produces abundant very small roundish to pear-shaped blue-green to bright green fruits.

It has naturalized worldwide thanks to the prolific production of fertile fruits. It is considered invasive in Hawaii, Florida, Bermuda, Mauritius, Reunion, and New Caledonia.

Other Common Names: Fountain Palm, Serdang, Chinese Fountain Palm

Identifying Features: Chinese Fan Palm has very soft elegant-looking costapalmate leaves with drooping tips that will help quickly identify it from the usually stiff-looking leaves of other fan palms. Its bisexual flowers and abundant small roundish to pear-shaped bright green fruits will also help identify it.

Native Area: Japan, Taiwan, southeast China

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 30 ft (to 50 ft) tall, 10 – 12 ft spread

9. Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

Needle Palm is a small clumping palm made of several short stems that grow very close together in a dense base. Most of the stem is covered in a thick mat of fibers that hide numerous long needle-like spines, so be careful!

It has lush green 6.6 ft long leaves that are divided almost to the base, making it look palmately compound with 8 – 16 leaflets with two folds running their length.

Needle Palm Wagner-Reiss
Image by KATHERINE WAGNER-REISS, Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Text added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Leaves are on long spineless leaf stalks with numerous 3.9 – 9.8” long needle-like spines at the petiole bases.

Flowers are densely packed into short rounded inflorescences that grow between the leaves and seldom extend beyond the sheaths.

It prefers moist soil in partial shade and is one of the most cold-tolerant palms, surviving down to – 15 F.

This one is also wild-harvested and is vulnerable and imperiled in its entire range except for Florida. Please purchase nursery-grown stock.

Other Common Names: Porcupine Palm

Identifying Features: Needle Palm grows about as wide as it does tall with multiple tightly clumped stems with spines over much of the stem’s surface hidden in masses of fibers. Its fan-like leaves are deeply divided almost to their base. It is sometimes confused with low-growing palmettos, but the latter typically have armed petioles with shorter spines up their entire length instead of long spines at the bases.

Native Area: Former southeastern USA endemic from Mississippi east to Florida and north to South Carolina

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 10 ft tall, 8 – 10 ft wide

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

10. Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)

Bismarck Palm Bismarckia nobilis - plant - Sin Mazatlan .cultivation 2020-12-29
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

The Bismarck Palm is unique for its striking foliage. It has stiff, waxy costapalmate leaves in a very intensely steel-blue to gray-green color. Once you see its leaves, you will always know the Bismarck Palm.

The leaves are up to 9 ft wide and rounded in their outline. They are divided to ¼ to ⅓ of their length along folds into at least 20 stiff single-folded segments with conspicuous filaments between the folds.

The robust, smooth, and unarmed petiole is also covered in a dense whitish waxy layer. The upper hastula is often enlarged compared to the lower, making it appear lopsided.

The inflorescences are shorter than the leaves and contain bracts that encase each flower.

It grows in various soil types, including clay, but prefers well-drained. It grows in full sun to partial shade, is tolerant of drought, and has relatively low water requirements.

Other Common Names: Silver Bismarck Palm, Satra, Satrabe

Identifying Features: The striking steel-blue to gray-green stiff costapalmate leaves are an easy way to very quickly identify the Bismarck Palm. Its trunk is more or less smooth, with only small remnants of leaves, and it has no crown shaft. And its relatively short brown inflorescences, followed by unique brown speckled fruits with a shallowly grooved surface, will also help identify this palm.

Native Area: Endemic to grasslands of northern and western Madagascar

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 70 ft (to 82 ft) tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

11. Mediterranean Dwarf Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

Meditteranean Fan Palm Nature Hills
Images via Nature Hills

The Mediterranean Dwarf Palm is stemless to a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree. It frequently suckers from the main stem producing up to eight stems covered with a mass of fibers left behind when leaves die.

It has a crown of blue-green to silver-green costapalmate leaves 1.5 to 3.3 ft across. The leaves are divided into 10-20 narrow stiff segments that are also deeply divided at their tips.

The 3 – 4 ft long leaf stalks are covered with white hairs and armed with numerous upward-pointing needle-like spines.

It produces short panicles of bright yellow flowers that ripen to yellow-orange or brown drupes.

It is one of only two palms native to the European continent and can tolerate extreme heat and cold, surviving down to 10 F.

It tolerates drought, wind, salt, partial shade, and poor soils and is easily propagated via its suckers.

Other Common Names: European Fan Palm

Identifying Features: The Mediterranean Dwarf Palm grows about as wide or wider than it does tall and usually has up to 8 fiber-covered stems created by suckering at the main stem. It has long petioles armed with forward-pointing spines and costapalmate leaves with leaf segments that are deeply divided at the tips.

Native Area: Coastal Spain, Portugal, and coastal areas throughout the western and central Mediterranean area, including parts of northern Africa

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 15 ft (to 20 ft) tall, 6 – 10 ft (to 20 ft) spread

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

12. Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis)

Fishtail Palm Starr-070321-5974-Caryota_mitis-leaves-Hana_Gardenland-Maui_(24258612803)
Image by Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 us

Fishtail Palm is a very unique palm, this one has double-pinnate leaves, rare among palms.

The bipinnate arching green 10 ft long leaves have the main rachis that branches off into smaller rachis.

The individual leaflets are widest at their irregularly toothed tips, giving them a triangular shape that looks like fishtails.

Its smooth trunk is usually hidden by persistent leaf sheaths but eventually becomes bare.

Purplish monoecious flowers (male and female on the same plant) emerge in pendulous spikes 2 ft long from along the crown shaft.

Fruits are dark purple to red and are very high in raphides – crystals of calcium oxalate that will cause dermatitis on the skin and irritate the mouth and digestive tract if ingested.

In its native habitat, it grows in moist organic hummocks over limestone. It does best in light shade and medium moisture. It can tolerate mild frost but is not cold-hardy.

Other Common Names: Clustering Fishtail Palm, Burmese Fishtail Palm

Identifying Features: The bipinnate leaves of the Fishtail Palm that are triangular in shape make it very easy to identify. It is occasionally confused with other members of its genus. However, the others are much less commonly sold as landscape species, and their leaves tend to be more variable in shape rather than overall triangular, so they resemble fishtails much less than this one.

Native Area: Tropical Asia from India to Java and south China

USDA Growing Zones: 9B – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 20 ft (to 33 ft) tall, 7 – 15 ft wide

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

13. Buccaneer Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii)

Buccanneer Palm Wagner Reiss
Images by KATHERINE WAGNER-REISS, Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Buccaneer Palm is a slender palm with a uniform self-cleaning silvery gray trunk with prominent leaf scars.

It has 7 – 16 feather-like leaves 3 – 7.2 ft long on pale green to white spineless leaf stalks up to 6.5 ft long.

Leaf segments have a pointy tip, glaucous or glossy green upper surface, and glaucous gray-green lower surface.

Its erect or horizontal inflorescence is made of greenish to yellowish flowers followed by roundish red drupes roughly ½ inch in diameter.

It is native to southern Florida and the Caribbean, where it is found in coastal habitats threatened by coastal development. Some populations are severely threatened, and several have already been lost.

It grows very slowly, resulting in frequent harvesting of wild specimens. Be sure to purchase nursery-grown stock.

It prefers well-drained alkaline to neutral soils and has excellent salt tolerance, but it must be grown in full sun.

Other Common Names: Cherry Palm, Sargent’s Cherry Palm, Palma de Guinea, Florida Cherry Palm

Identifying Features: Buccaneer Palm’s smooth gray trunk and feather-like silvery-green leaves that do not bend strongly towards the trunk, along with its roundish red drupes, will help identify it. It is similar to the Royal and Christmas Palms, but its crown shaft appears rougher and not nearly as smooth or green as either of those. It also has very pale green to white leaf stalks that will help identify it.

Native Area: Florida, Yucatan Peninsula region of Mexico, Belize, Caribbean islands

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 25 ft tall, 7 – 15 ft spread

14. Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)

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

The Date Palm is famous for its delicious edible fruit, dates. Several trees produce dates and go by similar common names, but this one has been cultivated since 7000 BCE and is still the most widely cultivated.

Being dioecious, you need both male and female trees, as well as a hot and dry climate, to produce fruits.

It is also a lovely tall landscape tree with characteristic diamond-shaped leaf scarring on its trunk and topped by a crown of 100 – 120 slender feather-like leaves up to 16 ft long.

Each leaf is divided into about 150 slender waxy gray-green leaf segments that look delicate but are actually quite stiff.

Yellow flowers appear in drooping panicles on male and female trees. They produce large green drupes that ripen to shades of yellow, golden brown, red, or black.

It grows well in full sun and well-drained soil of various types, including slightly alkaline.

Other Common Names: Date

Identifying Features: The Date Palm can be identified by its somewhat delicate-looking feather-like gray-green leaves on top of a tall trunk with characteristic diamond-shaped leaf scars and large tasty drupes. It can be differentiated from the Canary Island Date Palm by its taller height, gray-green leaf segments that are spaced farther apart, and its much larger and sweeter-tasting drupes in more variable colors.

Native Area: North Africa and Arabian Peninsula, possibly further east, but this may have been from early cultivation

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 80 ft tall, 20 – 40 ft spread

15. Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

Canary Island Date Palm Phoenix_canariensis_CBMen_6
Image by Donkey shot, Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Canary Island Date Palm is a tall palm with a single solitary dull brown stem with characteristic diamond-shaped leaf base scars.

It has 75 – 125 (up to 443!) fine feather-like arching leaves 13 – 20 ft long with 80 – 100 bluish-green forward-pointing leaf segments on each side of the rachis.

The inflorescence is erect (becoming pendulous on female plants) with small crowded yellowish flowers with a mildly sweet aroma.

Fruits are oval yellow to orange drupes 0.39 inches in diameter. They are edible, but the flesh is thin and not as tasty as the Date Palm.

It readily hybridizes, creating concern about genetic contamination in its native range. Because of this, the importation of exotic Phoenix species has recently been banned there.

It has been known to escape cultivation, especially in California, where it invades riparian habitats, and could become problematic in the future.

Other Common Names: Canary Palm, Pineapple Palm

Identifying Features: The Canary Island Date Palm is similar to the Date Palm but differs by its stouter trunk, with more leaves and more closely spaced segments that are deep green instead of gray-green, and its erect rather than drooping panicles of flowers. It is sometimes confused with the related Sylvester Palm, but that species is smaller, and its leaves are silvery blue-green.

Native Area: Formerly endemic to all seven of the Canary Islands

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 33 – 66 ft (to 131 ft) tall, 20 – 40 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

16. Sylvester Palm (Phoenix sylvestris)

Sylvester Palm Fast Growing Trees and Jeganathan
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees, and P Jeganathan, Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Sylvester Palm is a medium-sized palm growing to 50 ft tall with a single stem with diamond-shaped leaf scars typical of the genus.

It has 9.8 ft long arching silvery blue-green feather-like leaves on 3.3 ft long leaf stalks with spines made of modified leaves near the base.

Its erect male and female inflorescences are up to 3.3 ft long and contain musty-scented whitish or yellowish flowers on green stalks that become golden-orange in fruit.

Fruits are roughly oval in shape and ripen from green to orange-yellow.

In its native habitat, it grows in plains and scrublands to 4265 ft above sea level.

It is widely used in its native habitat to make wine and jelly and is a popular ornamental worldwide.

It is easy to grow, hardy, and tolerant of many soil types, provided it is moist and well-drained. It prefers full sun to light shade.

Other Common Names: Silver Date Palm, Indian Date, Wild Date Palm, Sugar Date Palm

Identifying Features: Sylvester Palm has diamond shape leaf scars, feather-like leaves, orange peduncles (flower and fruit stalks), and spines at the petiole bases that are all common in members of its genus. Its silvery blue-green leaves and shorter trunk will help distinguish it from most of its relatives.

Native Area: India, Southern Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 20 t- 50 ft tall, 10 – 25 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

17. Pigmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

Pygmy Date Palm_6_650x Fast Growing Tree and Stang
Images by Fast-Growing-Trees and David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0, Text added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Pygmy Date Palm is a small clustering palm that grows stemless offshoots from its main trunk, though, in cultivation, it is often reduced to one trunk with the diamond-shaped leaf scars typical of its genus.

It produces 2 – 4 inch long spines at the base of its leaf stalks.

Arching leaves up to 6.6 ft long have about 100 leaflets that are less than ½ inch wide, gray-green, and drooping with scurfy hairs on their lower surface.

Small yellow flowers appear on relatively short 1.5 ft long inflorescences followed by small purplish-brown drupes.

In its native habitat, it is restricted as a rheophyte – a plant that grows in fast-moving water, very rare for a palm. Its clustering habit is believed to help it survive flooding.

While most nursery stock is created by seeds and offshoots, wild collection for sale in Asia threatens wild populations, along with habitat loss.

Other Common Names: Dwarf Date Palm, Miniature Date Palm, Robellinii Palm

Identifying Features: The diamond-shaped leaf scars on the trunk, along with its gray-green leaflets with scurfy hairs on the lower surface, will help identify the Pygmy Date Palm. It also has 2 – 4 inch long spines along the base of its leaf stocks and 1.5 ft long inflorescences followed by small purplish-brown fruits. Its smaller size, gray-green leaves, and small fruits will help differentiate it from other date palms in its genus.

Native Area: Southeast Asia in South China, Laos, Vietnam

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 5 – 10 (to 23 ft) tall, 5 – 8 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

18. Jelly Palm (Butia capitata and Butia odorata)

Jelly Palm Nature Hills and Moxfyre
Images via Nature Hills and Moxfyre, Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Jelly Palms are usually sold as Butia capitata when most are likely Butia odorata. Butia odorata is the more cold-hardy species. It also has a thicker trunk and more variable leaf size and flower and fruit color.

They have stout trunks 6 to 10 ft tall that narrow toward the crown and have a coarse but uniform texture.

Their light blue-green to gray-green leaves are feather-like, with a central rachis up to 6.6 ft long and numerous rows of leaf segments with asymmetrical tips.

Leaf stalks are 2 – 3 ft long and are armed along their margins with spiny teeth 3 – 4.3 inches long.

They produce large sweet orange-yellow roundish drupes with a flavor reminiscent of pineapples that are made into delicious jellies.

Easy to grow in full sun to partial shade, tolerates heat, salt, and drought, and does well in containers.

It rarely escapes cultivation and is non-invasive.

Other Common Names: Pindo Palm

Identifying Features: Jelly Palms can be quickly identified by their feather-like light blue-green or gray-green leaves that bend strongly toward the stout trunk. It can further be identified by its shorter habit and its very delicious orange-yellow fruits. Given the confusion between the two Butia species cultivated and the high variability in the one species that is likely sold more worldwide, identifying it as a Jelly Palm of either species is sufficient for most purposes.

Native Area: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 20 ft (to 33 ft) tall, 10 -15 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

19. Golden Cane Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Golden Cane Palm Lyrae Willis
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

The Golden Cane Palm is a clustering palm made of 4 – 20 yellowish cane-like stems, giving it its common name.

It has 5-11 feather-like leaves up to 6 ft long with a yellow rachis and 40 – 60 leaf segments on each side that are widely spaced, stiff, green above, and waxy gray-green below.

The relatively short 0.6 – 1.2 ft petiole is also yellowish.

It is widely grown both outdoors and indoors as potted houseplants. It grows well in rich, well-drained soil in partial but bright shade. It will tolerate full sun but will not grow well in full shade. Its clumping habit makes it easy to propagate by division.

In its native habitat, it grows in white sand forests in a narrow strip close to the ocean. Despite its limited range, it is not currently threatened.

It is considered invasive in Cuba and could become problematic elsewhere.

Other Common Names: Yellow Palm, Areca Palm, Bamboo Palm, Butterfly Palm

Identifying Features: The Golden Cane Palm is fairly easy to identify with its clustering habit and 4 – 20 yellowish cane-like stems, its yellowish petioles and yellowish rachis. Its somewhat delicate-looking feather-like leaves and long inflorescences of tiny flowers that droop down from near the top of the crown shaft will also help identify this palm.

Native Area: Coastal Madagascar

USDA Growing Zones: 10 -11

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 30 ft tall, 8 to 15 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

20. Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)

Lipstick Palm Tyersall_Ave,_Bandstand,_Singapore_-_panoramio_(49)
Image by Lobster1, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Lipstick Palm gets its name from its distinctive and beautiful bright red crown shaft and leaf sheaths. This feature is unique in the Arecaceae family, making it one of the most easily identifiable palms.

It is a small clustering palm with three or more adult stems up to 50 ft tall. Its trunk is smooth and green with white leaf scars.

It has 7 – 10 erect, stiff feather-like leaves in its crown that are up to 4.9 feet long, with 26 – 40 leathery leaflets on each side of the rachis.

Native to lowland, often coastal, peat swamp areas of southeast Asia, it is a moisture-loving palm that likes rich, humusy soil with good drainage. It will not tolerate drought or frost.

Its uniqueness makes it very popular as an ornamental, and it can easily be propagated via the division of its suckers.

It is not considered invasive anywhere.

Other Common Names: Red Sealing Wax Palm, Red Palm Tree

Identifying Features: Lipstick Palm is very easy to identify by its bright red crown shaft and leaf sheaths and its smooth green trunk(s) with white leaf scars. As long as the red crown shaft is visible, it cannot be mistaken for any other palm species.

Native Area: Thailand, Borneo, Malaya, Sumatra

USDA Growing Zones: 11 – 12

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 15 ft (to 50 ft) tall, 5 – 10 ft spread

21. Christmas Palm (Adonidia merrillii)

Christmas Palm Adonidia merrillii - fruits - Sin Gaviotas Mazatlan .cultivation 2021-11-14
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

The Christmas Palm has been cultivated in East Asia for centuries. Today it is one of the most widely cultivated palms worldwide, both outdoors and indoors in hotels, shopping malls, etc.

It has a slender grey trunk with 5 – 12 stiff bright green feather-like leaves 4 – 5 ft long that arch towards the trunk. Its trunk is self-pruning and requires no maintenance. Above its trunk is a green crown shaft where inflorescences grow out from the base of it.

It is a relatively fast-growing palm best grown in full sun to partial shade in moist, well-drained soil.

They are often planted in groups in a landscape to give it more of a multi-stemmed appearance, though it is a single-stemmed species.

Fruits are round and light green but mature to a bright, vibrant red in winter. It gets its name because the drupes ripen from green to red at Christmas time.

Other Common Names: Manilla Palm, Merill Palm, Mini Royal Palm

Identifying Features: The smooth, slender trunk, green crown shaft, and bright green feather-like leaves that arch towards the trunk help identify the Christmas Palm. Its bright red fruits that mature near Christmas also help to get a positive identification. The Jelly Palm also has feather-like leaves that bend towards the trunk, but its trunk is coarse instead of smooth, and the Royal Palm has a distinctive, vibrant green crown shaft and a bulge in the trunk just below it.

Native Area: The Philippines, Malaysia

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 25 ft (to 40 ft) tall, 6 – 8 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

22. Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Coconuts are very large canopy palms with a single, erect stem that is self-pruning.

It has numerous leaves up to 23 ft long that split into about 100 single-folded leaf segments that are stiff, linear, and pointy with divided and often asymmetrical tips.

The fruit is unique, one of few nuts in the family. It’s broadly ovoid and dull green, ripening to orange, yellow, or ivory.

The fruit’s outer epicarp and fibrous mesocarp are removed to reveal the hard, fibrous endocarp that we know as a coconut. The white endosperm inside the nut is that part that we eat.

Cocos_nucifera_(coconut)_5_(38507429165)
Image by James St. John, CC BY 2.0, Text added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The coconut is the second largest seed in the world, weighing up to 8 lbs.

It has a natural ability for long-distance dispersal by floating in the ocean for months at a time. As a result of this and its cultivation, its native range is unknown, but many believe it came from the western Pacific.

Other Common Names: Coconut Palm

Identifying Features: Coconut is unique in the palm family and can easily be identified by its very large nut (the coconut). The tall height and the graceful slanting crown of feather-like leaves will also help identify it when it is not in fruit.

Native Area: Pantropical and subtropical coastal regions worldwide, possibly originated in the western Pacific islands

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 12

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 100 ft tall, 15 – 30 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

23. Royal Palm (Roystonea regia)

Royal Palm (818706905)
Image by Dinesh Valke, CC BY-SA 2.0

Sometimes, Royal Palm is listed as Roystonea elata, but palm authorities say there are no significant differences between them.

It is a very beautiful palm, popular for its stout, smooth gray-white trunk with uniform leaf scars and a distinctively smooth, vibrant green crown shaft up to 6.6 ft long.

It has about 15 dark green leaves up to 13 ft long, with the lowest leaves curving towards the trunk while the upper leaves spread out in sweeping arches.

Inflorescences appear at the base of the crown shaft where it meets the trunk, and the pink anthers give the flowers a pinkish appearance.

It grows well in any moist, well-drained soil and tolerates many conditions, including poor soils and urban environments. It grows best in full sun to partial shade and can be grown indoors and outdoors.

Though listed as Least Concern, their population is declining and threatened by fire and over-harvesting.

Other Common Names: Florida Royal Palm, Cuban Royal Palm

Identifying Features: The Royal Palm can easily be identified by its smooth gray-white trunk with a characteristic bulge usually seen just below its very distinctive long, vibrant green crown shaft. Christmas Palm also has a long smooth green crown shaft, but Royal Palm has that distinctive, vibrant green color that is not seen in Christmas Palms or other similar palms.

Native Area: Florida, Cuba, Caribbean, Mexico, parts of Central America

USDA Growing Zones: 10 (9 with protection) – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 98 ft (to 113 ft) tall, 5 – 10 ft spread

24. Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)

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

Queen Palm is a delicate and elegant-looking Palm. It has a very slender trunk that is smooth but not self-cleaning. It has numerous arching, feather-like leaves 8-15 ft long with drooping leaf segments.

It grows sprays of delicate white flowers in inflorescences that do not extend beyond the leaves. These are followed by large green drupes up to one inch long that ripen to orange-yellow.

Its sweet fruits are edible, though fibrous, and with a large pit. Fruiting inflorescences can weigh over 100 lbs, and the seeds will sprout readily if the conditions are right.

It is one of the hardier tropical palm trees but is prone to potassium deficiency and fungal diseases.

It has been sold as Cocos plumosa since the late 1800s. Originally native to South American rainforests, it has been introduced worldwide and is listed as a Category II invasive species in Florida.

Other Common Names: Cocos Palm, Butia palm, Feathery Coconut, Giriba Palm

Identifying Features: Queen Palm’s slender trunk and gently arching leaves with drooping delicate leaf segments will help identify it, along with its relatively short inflorescences and large sweet but fibrous orange-yellow drupes. It is sometimes confused with Royal Palm, but it has no crown shaft. And sometimes, it is confused with coconut, but their fruits can quickly differentiate those.

Native Area: South America in Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, and southern and eastern Brazil

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 30 to 50 (to 70 ft) ft tall, 20 to 25 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

25. Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcata)

Foxtail Palm Starr and Palma
Images by Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, and Daniel Di Palma – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Foxtail Palm has unique plume-like leaves that appear bushier than most palms, giving it its common name.

The trunk is slightly bottle-shaped, smooth, and light gray with thin leaf scars. Above the trunk is a prominent long green crown shaft.

The pinnately divided leaves are divided into several linear segments that may be lobed or toothed, giving the leaves a bushy appearance. Their upper surface is light to dark green, and the lower surface is covered with a thick layer of small whitish scales.

Monoecious inflorescences of male and female flowers on the same inflorescence appear at the base of the crown shaft.

The fruits are very large two inch long green drupes that ripen to orange-red. They have a layer of distinctive forking black fibers just below the fleshy mesocarp.

While they are drought tolerant, they do best in full sun in moist, well-drained soil.

Other Common Names: Jungle Music Palm

Identifying Features: The Foxtail Palm, with its divided leaflets on plumose or bushy-looking leaves, will help identify this palm. The distinctively large two-inch drupes that are red-orange when mature and have a forked black fibrous layer below their fleshy mesocarp protecting the seed inside will also quickly ascertain a positive identification.

Native Area: Endemic to rocky scrublands of northeast Queensland (Australia)

USDA Growing Zones: 10 (9B) – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 40 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

26. Acai Palm (Euterpe oleracea)

Acai Palm - Culbert
Images by Dick Culbert, CC BY 2.0, and Dick Culbert, CC BY 2.0

Acai Palm is a tall canopy palm with clustered stems to 65 ft tall with a long blue-green crown shaft. It is made popular for its tasty fruits, the acai berries (actually a drupe).

It has 8 – 14 arching feather-like leaves up to 13 ft long with 40 – 60 green pendulous leaflets on each side of the rachis.

Inflorescences are almost horizontal, arising from the crown shaft, and are followed by numerous 0.4 – 0.8 inch roundish purple-black edible drupes.

It is widely cultivated in its native floodplain habitat, where its fruits and palm hearts are an important part of the local diet. Eating palm hearts does not kill this tree because it has multiple stems.

It grows in full sun to partial shade in various soil types, but it requires consistently moist soil. It will not tolerate any drought or freezing temperatures.

Other Common Names: Acai, Assai Palm, Cabbage Palm

Identifying Features: The Acai Palm’s tall height, long blue-green crown shaft, and arching feather-like leaves with its strongly pendulous leaflets will help identify it. Its horizontal inflorescences and tasty roundish 0.4 – 0.8 inch purple-black drupes will also help identify it. It is usually not confused with other palms outside of its own genus, and those are not usually cultivated outside their native habitats.

Native Area: Ecuador, Colombia, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, north and northeast Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad-Tobago

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 12

Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 65 ft (to 82 ft), 10 – 16 ft spread

27. Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis)

Bottle Palm Fast Growing Trees Molteno
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees (cultivated) and S Molteno, Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0 (native habitat)

The Bottle Palm is a unique little palm with a very stout, smooth self-cleaning trunk up to 2 ft wide that abruptly narrows into a smooth green crown shaft, like a bottle.

It has 4 – 8 leaves with a reddish-orange tint when young but mature to dark green. The feather-like leaves grow to 10 ft long, arching upwards with about 140 leaf segments that point in a forward direction.

Inflorescences of pretty white flowers with male and female flowers on the same inflorescence (monoecious) grow out from the base of the crown shaft. These are followed by one-inch round drupes that ripen from green to black.

They grow in full sun and tolerate drought and partial shade.

It is Critically Endangered in its native habitat, where it is restricted to a single island in the Indian Ocean. It is expected to become extinct in the wild due to habitat destruction.

Other Common Names: Palmiste gargoulette

Identifying Features: The Bottle Palm has a unique appearance with its short, exceptionally stout trunk topped with a narrow green crown shaft that will very quickly identify it. The only other palm it’s frequently confused with is the closely related Spindle Palm, but that one has a swelling in the middle rather than the whole trunk, creating a spindle shape that does not look like a bottle.

Native Area: A narrow micro endemic found only on Round Island off the coast of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 5 – 10 (to 12 ft) ft tall, 6 – 8 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

28. Triangle Palm (Dypsis decaryi)

Triangle Palm - Starr
Images by Forest & Kim Starr and Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 us, text added by Lyrae Willis

The Triangle Palm is an unusual and beautiful small to medium-sized tree with a thick dark gray, solitary trunk with conspicuous leaf scars.

It is topped with a crown of 10 ft long keeled feather-like gray-green to blue-green leaves that are arranged upright in a symmetrical flattened array that arch downwards only near the leaf tips.

Leaf bases stack on top of each other in a conspicuously triangular shape in three vertical columns (tristichous).

Yellowish-green flowers grow in 4 – 5.8 ft long inflorescences between the lower leaves and are followed by large roundish black fruits almost 1” in diameter.

Best grown in moist, well-drained soil in full sun but will tolerate partial shade and poor dry soils.

Most wild seeds are still collected for commercial production of this Vulnerable palm, with only about 1000 individuals remaining in the wild.

While wildly grown worldwide, it is not considered invasive anywhere.

Other Common Names: Three-ranked Palm, Three-corned Palm, Three-sided Palm

Identifying Features: Triangle Palm has unique erect leaves arranged in a flattened array like a peacock tail that helps quickly identify it from all other palm trees. The unique triangular stacking of the leaf bases above the trunk, along with its keeled (bent inwards like the keel of a boat) feather-like leaves, will also help identify it.

Native Area: Restricted to a single narrow habitat niche at the southeastern corner of Madagascar

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 13

Average Size at Maturity: 25 – 20 (to 49 ft) ft tall, 12 – 15 ft spread

29. Traveller’s Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis)

Travellers Palm Pho and HQ
Images by Duyệt-phố, Vietnamese Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 and 阿橋 HQ, CC BY-SA 2.0, Text added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Traveller’s Palm is not actually a palm or even closely related to the Arecaceae, belonging instead to the Streletziaceae family. It is more closely related to Bird of Paradise and Bananas than a true palm.

It may, at first glance, appear similar to the Triangle Palm, but upon closer inspection, its morphology is not at all palm-like.

It grows 20 – 35 huge leaves up to 36 ft long that are arranged in a flat array reminiscent of a peacock tail. Its leaves are wide, rich green, and roughly shred into irregular pieces that look much more like a banana leaf than the ‘leaflets’ of a true palm.

The flowers are unique among plants in general. They are large, white flowers that look similar to the unique bird of paradise flowers.

It is formerly endemic to Madagascar, occupying forests, grasslands, and rocky areas, and is listed as Least Concern.

Other Common Names: East-West Palm, Traveller’s Tree

Identifying Features: The Traveller’s Palm’s leaves and flowers will very quickly identify it. It has large, erect, wide, and irregularly shredding rich green leaves arranged in an overall fan-like shape. It appears similar to Triangle Palm but without regular leaf segments. Its flowers do not resemble a palm flower at all and, instead, are much larger and resemble those of the bird of paradise plant.

Native Area: Endemic of Madagascar

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 50 ft (to 100 ft) tall

30. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

Sago Palm Fast Growing Trees & Danorton
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees and Danorton – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Sago Palm is not a palm at all. It is a gymnosperm with no fruit encasing its seed. But it is not closely related to other gymnosperms. Cycads evolved 300 million years ago from the now-extinct line of seed ferns.

It has a short trunk covered with thick shaggy fibers. As it matures, it often branches, producing several crowns of leaves.

The crown is an exceptionally symmetrical rosette of feather-like leaves up to 3.3 ft in diameter.

Leaves are glossy green 1.6 – 4.9 ft long and pinnately compounded with crowded, narrow, stiff leaflets. Leaf stalks are only up to 4 inches long and have small spines.

It has separate male and female plants (dioecious). Male flowers are conspicuous upright yellowish ellipsoid pollen cones up to 1.5 ft tall.

It grows in full sun to part shade in various soil types and is tolerant of drought.

Other Common Names: Sago Palm, King Sago, Sago Cycad, Japanese Sago Palm

Identifying Features: The short trunk and exceptionally symmetrical rosette of stiff feather-like leaves with crowded leaflets will help quickly identify the Sago Palm. Its 1.5 ft tall pollen cones or short masses of female flowers, both found in the center of the rosette of leaves, will also quickly help differentiate it from all other palms.

Native Area: Southern Japan and the Ryukyu Islands

USDA Growing Zones: 9 (8 with protection) – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 1.6 – 6.6 ft tall, 1.6 – 5 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

Impressive Palm Trees

Palms are a beautiful and diverse group of plants with many species over the world in tropical, subtropical, and even temperate climates.

The palm family holds a lot of fascinating biological world records as well. For instance, they have the largest self-supporting leaves, at 82 feet long and 9.8 feet wide in Raphia regalis.

They have the largest inflorescence of flowers at 25 ¼ feet long, with ten or more million flowers in Corypha umbraculifera.

Lodoicea maldivica is renowned for having the largest single seed weighing in at a whopping 55 lbs.

They hold the record for the tallest monocot, Ceroxylon quindiuense, at 200 ft tall.

They also have some of the longest-lived seeds. A Phoenix dactylifera germinated after 2000 years in storage, which is very unusual for such a large seed.

If you want to grow a palm, you have made a great choice. They are a rewarding tree to have in any garden or landscape. However, when choosing a palm tree for your yard, always check your USA Planting Zones to find out which palm trees you can grow in your area.

And be sure to look at your chosen site’s soil, light, and moisture requirements to ensure success. Check out How to Pick A Tree For Your Yard for more information on what to look for.

Finally, when planting a palm tree, never bury any part of the trunk. It lacks bark and can be very sensitive to microorganisms in the soil, which could rot the trunk and kill it before it has a chance to get established.

I hope you learned some interesting things about palm trees and continue to enjoy learning more about this beautiful and uniquely fantastic family!

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