When it comes to palm trees, there is one other palm paradise aside from California and that would be Florida. You would find a dozen palm tree species in Florida alone. Each palm species is distinguishable in terms of height, leaves, trunks, and growth habits. In this post, we shall square everything that we need to know about the types of palm trees in Florida.
If for some reasons you are curious about what palm trees grow in Florida for landscaping and other purposes, this is the post for you so read on.
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How many kinds of palm trees are in Florida?
Right now, we are looking at more than 30 species of palm trees in Florida thanks to the rise of tourism and the hotel industry. But really, there are just 12 native palm trees which originated in Florida. All else come from Southeast Asia and South America. Nonetheless, the many unique palm species found in Florida makes it a legitimate palm tree state.
What are the 12 native palm trees in Florida?
With the many palm trees in Florida, these 12 palm tree species are the only ones considered as true Florida palm. Some species are still contested as Florida natives because they could also be seen as endemic in Australia and Asian countries. Nonetheless, here is a list of the ‘listed’ native palm trees in Florida.
- Dwarf palmetto
- Scrub palmetto
- Saw palmetto
- Needle palm
- Sylvester palm
- Keys thatch palm
- Florida thatch palm
- Florida silver palm
- Paurotis palm
- Alexander palm tree
- Cabbage palm
- Florida royal palm
How do I identify a palm tree in Florida?
There are some specific identifiers that would help you identify a palm tree. Here are some of the characteristics that you should look for to identify a palm tree.
A palm tree would have an unbranched stem with old leaf bases on the trunk called fronds. They are bushy, large leaf bases on the palm stem. Coconuts do not have this, so it is a strong palm identifier.
Different species of palm trees have different frond appearances. Pinnate (feather-like) fronds are seen in date palm, coconut palm, Areca palm, and Queen palm. Palmate (fan-shaped) fronds can be found in Mexican and Chinese fan palm, Windmill palm, and Bismarck palm.
Some palms do not have fruits, but most have one. They bear coconuts, betel nuts, or even acai berries. If you find any of these in a palm like tree, that is a palm.
The trunk of palms usually looks like a cluster of wood in a crisscross manner or in a manner that makes it look like woven wood. The trunk’s surface is spiney or rough at the base and becomes smoot as you reach the top. Others have straight trunks while others would have tapered ones.
Palm trees grow flowers discreetly. They come in white, white and grayish colors. Some come with scents while others do not. When you spot a flower on a palm, it means that it will grow coconuts after.
Dwarf species of palm have a minimum height of 10ft while others could grow to as high as 100ft.
Types of palm trees in Florida
There are more than 30 species of palm tree that are now endemic in Florida. But if you are looking at some of the most famous Florida palm trees, here is a list of what you could commonly see when you drive-by or fly-in to Florida.
1. African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis)
This one is more than just an ornamental palm. Up to this day, the African oil palm is a steady source of palm oil, supplying the world’s population with oil that we use in the kitchen. It is also culturally significant in many African tribes.
It grows in between 20-60ft. It produces tiny flowers that will grow into red oval fruits at 4cm in size. The red fruit turns black when ripe and is oily. This is where the oil palm is extracted.
2. Alexander Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae)
This small to medium size palm is a famous choice in warmer Florida landscapes. It has a smooth trunk, multi-stemmed with a middle bulge, and has a unique self-cleaning nature. Its leaves are pinnate with an arching growth habit. Its fronds can grow to up to 8ft with a height in between 20-40ft. It is relatively cold hardy, thriving even at 4C.
3. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
This one is a very popular indoor palm but is now considered as an endangered species. It highly resembles bamboo, which grows at a clumping manner. It has a smooth trunk, sometimes golden in color.
It has slim and narrow fronds. Arecas grows slowly and are best planted during spring and are best grown in containers. It grows at 10-30ft in height and 8-15ft in width.
4. Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)
This is not a Florida native but it is one of the seasoned palm choices for southern states. It is distinct for its short, rough, and fibrous trunk accompanied by a silver-gray frond and a silvery, bushy crown. Its palmate leaves can extend to up to 10ft, and a crown cover of up to 22ft. In terms of height, it could grow to up to 20ft.
5. Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe Lagenicaulis)
This one gets its name from its bottle shape trunk. So, although it is a small sized palm, it looks wide and bulky. This makes it unique from the spindle fan palm with a swelling in the middle.
The bottle palm is just 10ft in height and four, large, arching pinnate leaves that can grow to at a maximum of 12ft. The bottle palm can be grown in a container so you can keep it indoors during winter.
6. Buccaneer Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii)
This palm is also called the Florida cherry palm and is considered as a medium sized palm growing at a maximum of just 26ft. It is identifiable for its long fronds with that grows in an arching habit. The trunk is swollen but smooth and its surface has ringed patterns. It can be grown in containers so it could be taken indoors during winter.
7. Cabbage Palm (Sabal Palmetto)
It is also called the swamp palm or blue palmetto. It is native to the Bahamas, Cuba and in Florida. As a matter of fact, it is the state tree of Florida. It stands high at 65ft. It is salt, drought and snow tolerant.
It is loved because it is practically disease-free. It is distinguishable for its tan trunk with old leaf bases and crisscross patterns which become smooth and gray in color as it goes top. Its leaf is fan-shaped at the tip, with white and fragrant flowers and black, edible fruits.
8. Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix Canariensis)
It is a flowering palm and is also called as pineapple palm. As the name suggests, it is native to the Canary Islands. Its trunk looks like a large pineapple that can grow to up to 30ft in diameter.
Its height can reach to 65ft, a spread of 40ft and dark green pinnate leaves that grows long at 20ft. It has sharp pines by its base so be careful down there. It grows ornamental white-gray flowers and yellow, edible fruits after bloom time.
9. Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona Chinensis)
It is naturalized in South Florida but is a native of China, Japan, and Taiwan. It is grown at a regulated rate, however, because it is fast-growing, and it is considered as invasive in some Florida towns.
It can grow to up to 50ft with a spread of 12ft. It has a bluish-green leaf that grows long at 6ft, round and segmented. It produces yellow flowers and blue-green to black fruits after it blooms.
10. Christmas Palm (Adonidia merrillii)
This one is another beautiful dwarf palm specie which upscales any ornamental garden. As a matter of fact, it is considered as the most popular dwarf palm out there. Its max height is 25ft distinguishable for its upward arching, large pinnate leaves. It is called the Christmas palm because it produces bright red fruits during the winter.
11. Coconut Palm (Cocos Nucifera)
This one is fondly called as the ‘tree of life’ and we all love its fruit because it gives healthy juice and an even healthier flesh. It is the symbol of island life. It is one of the most grown palms in Florida growing at a maximum of 80ft.
It can also be grown in containers growing at 20ft. It often has a bushy top containing 30 pinnate leaves and at least 200 leaflets. It only takes 4-6 years for one to harvest coconuts.
12. Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis)
This one gets its name from its shaggy leaves that look like a fishtail. It is drought-tolerant, growing in between 8-20ft at a width of 10-35ft. It is low maintenance, with leaves that are blue-green in color with shiny undersides. It thrives well in subtropical to tropical climates.
13. Florida Silver Palm (Coccothrinax argentata)
This is a small type of palm endemic in southern Florida. It has a single, slender, and smooth trunk growing in between 6-20ft. It has beautiful deep blue-green leaves that are silver underneath. It also produces inedible purple palm fruits.
14. Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata)
This slender palm is unique for its crown of fan-shaped, palmate leaves. It is a slow-growing palm which can grow at 20ft. It thrives best in subtropical climates making it a good ornamental, container palm for landscapes in South Florida. It can also thrive in coastal regions and in colder climates.
It might be an Australian native but it is endemic in Florida. It is a medium-sized palm with a distinguishable slivery-white trunk with arching fronds. It gets its name from the branch growth habit resembling a foxtail. It is fast-growing and can be mistaken for the royal palm. It could grow to up to 30ft.
16. Keys thatch palm (Leucothrinax morrisii)
This is also called as the brittle thatch palm which can be identified with its spiny, fan-shaped leaves extending from multiple branches but from a single stem. It is also known for its fibrous trunk and tiny, white fruits. It is a Florida native growing in between 3-36ft. It is cold-hardy as it could thrive on temperatures that are as low as -1C.
17. Latania Palm (Latania lontaroides)
This one is all over south Florida with leaves that look a lot like those of Bismarck’s. The leaves are silver-green, with a coarse texture and an upward growth habit. The fronds are fan-shaped that could grow to up to 15ft, and a height that is in between 20-30ft. It is more famously known as the Latan palm found in coastal parks because of its high salt tolerance.
18. Mexican Palm Tree (Washingtonia Robusta)
It is also called as the Mexican washingtonia. It is distinct for its palmate fanned leaves which grows at 3ft, leafy top foliage, and narrow, long trunk. At maximum, it grows tall at 82ft. It grows dates-like fruits that are edible but not as nutty as the real dates.
19. Montgomery Palm (Veitchia arecina)
It originated in Vanuatu with a moderate drought tolerance. It is a fast-growing palm with a slim trunk that resembles the Christmas palm. It has reduplicating, pinnate leaves, with a drooping nature. It grows a lot in southwest Florida, with feathered fronds and grows in between 25-25ft.
20. Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
The needle palm is a bushy small to medium sized palm that is perfect as ornamental palm for landscapes. It is native to Florida and is considered as one of the hardiest palm species in the state. It is unique for its fan-shaped fronds creating a round crown at the base of the tree. It also has a notable thick trunk and grows at only 4ft tall.
21. Parlor Palms (Chamaedorea elegans)
This one is categorized as an indoor palm because of its small size. It has slender stems resembling a reed. Each stem contains 6-7 pinnate leaves that can look bushy. Overall, it grows to just about 9ft. when grown outdoors and 6ft when grown in a container indoors. It is also a very low maintenance palm that can survive in dark spaces.
22. Paurotis Palm (Acoelorrhaphe Wrightii)
This one is native to Central America and Mexico. In Florida, it grows near swamps because it loves dense and sandy soils. The fronds alone can grow to up to 30ft with beautiful fan shaped leaves extending at 3ft.
The trunk is unique for its fibrous mats of red-brown color. The leaves are deep green in color with a silver glow underneath. It grows fruits but they are not edible.
23. Piccabeen Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana)
This Australian native is also called the Bangalow palm or King palm. It blooms attractive purple flowers and produces red fruits that are important to wildlife balance because they are well-loved by birds. It has leaves and branches that look like coconut palm and could grow at up to 60ft. It is multi-trunk and is moderately cold hardy but extremely wind tolerant.
24. Pindo Palm (Butia Capitata)
It is one of those cold-hardy palms and is also called a jelly palm. It is a slow-growing palm species with a max height of up to 20ft. They make beautiful ornamental palms.
Aside from that, they are also low maintenance as it thrives in all types of soils and in partial shade. It blooms red, yellow, and white flowers and produces orange to brown fruits that are harvested to make jellies, hence, the name jelly palm.
25. Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
True to its name, this small palm grows at 10ft max. It is identifiable for its long and bushy pinnate fronds and its single stem. The fronds are also arching down. It is a valuable ornamental tree that is perfect for subtropical gardens because they can also grow in containers. It produces date-like fruits but are not edible.
26. Queen Palm (Syagrus Romanzoffiana)
This ornamental palm is a native of South America. It is a fast-growing, single trunk palm which grows at up to 50ft. The leaves are glossy, pinnate shapes, forming multiple leaflets on the crown. It has a shade cover of 25ft making it a good landscape tree. It blooms flowers during the summer, followed by yellow, sticky fruits.
27. Red Sealing Wax Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)
This one gets its name for its red stems, a green sock-like structure at the bottom and an emerald green casing on top where the leaves start to extend out. It grows in between 30-45ft and thrives well in tropical to subtropical climates.
28. Ribbon Fan Palm (Livistona decora)
True to its name, this palm is identifiable for its ribbon-like leaves, dropping down and forming an umbrella-shaped, bushy crown. It is native to Australia but is endemic in central and southern Florida. It grows in a single stem, and a smooth trunk that grows straight.
29. Royal Palm (Roystonea regia)
It is perhaps, the most famous palm tree in the world. This low maintenance palm can survive for up to 100 years and could tolerate various climate conditions. The leaves are curved and its trunk is ringed. It could grow in between 45-90ft with a trunk that grows to up to 18ft. They are generally located in the coastal areas of central and southern Florida.
30. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)
This one is unique for large, fan-shaped leaves, spiky branches, and a unique crooked stem. It is a medium sized palm growing at just 10ft. It grows all around Florida and is relatively cold hardy as it could tolerate temperatures of up to 6C. It blooms yellow-white flowers and dark red palm fruits.
31. Scrub Palmetto (Sabal etonia)
The best identifier of a scrub palmetto would be its fan-shaped leaves branching out from a single, thin stem. This species is only native to Florida and a cold-hardy species that can tolerate temperatures at -12C. It is identifiable for its yellow-green, fan-shaped leaves and a curvy growth habit which makes it a good ground cover. It is a small sized palm growing at just 7ft.
32. Silver Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)
It was named after the first German Chancellor and native to Madagascar. It naturalized well in Southern Florida because it loves moderately moist and well-draining soil. It grows at 40ft and a thick trunk at 18-inches. It has beautiful silver green leaves that can grow at 4ft long. It is low maintenance for landscapes because it is a slow-growing palm. Once the roots are established, it can tolerate colder temperatures (up to -9.5C).
33. Sylvester Palm (Phoenix sylvestris)
This one is native in Asian countries such as Pakistan, India, and Nepal. It is the cousin of the Canary Island palm. It grows to a maximum of 50ft. Smaller varieties can grow to just 13ft. It is distinguishable for its large, pinnate, and arching leaves growing out from a single stem.
34. Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus Fortunei)
The windmill palm is an Asian native (specifically in China and Japan). It is considered as one of the hardiest palm tree species. It has a palmate, fan shaped leaves extending out in random directions, resonating a windmill. It grows up to 66ft, with a long and slender trunk.
Why are there no coconuts on palm trees in Florida?
There are some palm trees that grow coconuts. The tropical climate of Florida allows coconuts to thrive. But the reason why they are no longer that visible in Florida is because of the whitefly attacks on palm trees in Florida.
What is the most expensive palm tree in Florida?
Coco de Mer palm tree is not just the most expensive palm tree in Florida but is also considered as the most valuable palm tree in the world. It grows to up to 110ft and requires 40 years of growth before it could produce flowers. A 6ft Coco de Mer palm tree cost $330 and up.
Related: How Much Do Palm Trees Cost?
How long do palm trees live in Florida?
Depending on the species, palm trees in Florida live at an average of 80 years. Some hybrid types can live to up to 40 years only while hardy types could live to up to 100 years and more. If you want to see some of the oldest palm trees in Florida, head to Naples, the palm tree capital of Florida.
What is the fastest growing palm tree in Florida?
It is the Carpentaria palm. It is the fastest-growing palm tree in Florida, reaching full maturity in just 5-6 years. It is a medium-sized palm and is the cousin of the Veitchia species. Both are native to Australia but have long been naturalized in South Florida.
What city in Florida has the most number of palm trees?
Naples, and we have mentioned it previously. According to official reports, Naples has more palm trees than other tree species. For instance, in 2018, it has been reported that this Florida city only has 7,000 hard and softwoods compared to its 13,000 palm trees.
Which other US states have the most number of native palm trees?
There is no contestation that Florida has the most native palms but the notable honorable mentions for this list would be:
- North and South Carolina
What are the most famous landscape palms in Florida?
When it comes to this category, we are only looking at five: the Pygmy date palm, the Areca palm, the Christmas palm, the Foxtail palm and the European fan palm.
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Palm trees are extraordinary ornamental plants. There are a lot of reasons why it is found in many parts of the world, even naturalized in regions where it is not expected to grow and thrive. As far as Florida is concerned, it is one of the states where you could find the most majestic palm trees in the US. With all the things that we have covered here, a Florida drive-by should be an item in your bucket list that you need to tick off immediately.