If you want to make a bold statement be it for your outdoor garden or your indoor aesthetics, palm trees are always a good choice to start from.
Contrary to what most of us ordinarily know, these tropical trees come in many shapes and hues and colors.
In this article, we will focus on the types of palm trees and we shall answer key questions about palm trees that anyone who wishes to take a chance on it for their gardens would know.
In this article:
- Why is it called a palm tree?
- How many types of palm are there?
- Indoor palm trees
- 1. Belmore Sentry Palm (Howea Belmoreana)
- 2. Kentia Palm (Howea Forsteriana, thatch palm)
- 3. Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix Roebelenii)
- 4. Areca Palm (Dypsis Lutescens)
- 5. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)
- 6. Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
- 7. Cascade Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum)
- 8. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
- 9. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
- 10. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
- 11. Majesty Palm (Ravenea rivularis)
- 12. Yucca Palm (Yucca elephantipes)
- Container Palms
- 13. Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe Lagenicaulis, palmiste gargoulette)
- 14. Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys Renda)
- 15. Fishtail Palm (Caryota Mitis)
- 16. Diamond Palm or Joey Palm (Johannesteijsmannia Altifrons)
- 17. Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus Wagnerianus, Chusan palm, Chinese windmill palm)
- 18. Red Feather Palm (Chambeyronia Macrocarpa, flamethrower palm)
- 19. Dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor)
- 20. European fan palm (Chamaerops)
- Cold hardy palm trees
- Sunset palm trees
- Hawaii palm trees
- Types of palm trees in Florida
- Types of palm trees in California
- Types of palm trees in Arizona
- Types of palm trees in North Florida
- Miami palm trees
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Are palm trees native to Hawaii?
- Where do palm trees originally come from?
- Which country has the most palm trees?
- What city has the most palm trees?
- How long do palm trees live for?
- How much does a full-size palm tree cost?
- Why are palm trees expensive?
- What are the benefits of palm trees?
- How tall is a palm tree?
Why is it called a palm tree?
First of all, palms are not really trees. Botanically, palm trees are woody herbs categorized with bamboo, banana, and sedges. There is no accurate account as to how it got its name but fossil records indicate that the tree has been around for 80 million years; a time when dinosaurs were still alive.
The name palm is also well-documented in ancient scrolls from Hebrew, Latin, Mesopotamian, Aramaic, Greek and Egyptian scriptures. Through the years, the descriptions from these texts allowed botanists to come up with the division between date palms and coconut palms.
As an ornamental plant, it was first introduced during the Victorian era and was distributed to the Western hemisphere through Spanish missionaries who brought it to Los Angeles in the 18th century making it the palm state/canyon while it has been a popular tree in the other side of the world, specifically in Asia and the Pacific.
How many types of palm are there?
There has been a wide confusion in terms of what we refer to when we are talking about types of palm trees. One reason is that most articles about it interchange types with species.
If this is what you are here for then you are looking at more than 3,600 types of palms. So the better classification of types of palm is in terms of appearance and botanical tendencies. Thus, we can say that we have 8 types of palm trees:
- Indoor palms: those that can be cultivated out of their natural habitats at smaller heights.
- Fan leaf palms: those with fan-shaped foliage
- Feather leaf palms: those with feathery fronds and arching foliage; typically, narrower in size than fan-shaped leaves
- Palms with edible fruits: this is where the date and coconut palms are categorized
- Cold hardy palms: those that could tolerate temperatures below 15degrees
- Drought tolerant palms: those that could thrive in less moist regions and under harsher soil and climate conditions.
- Tall growing palms: those that could grow at a mature height of more than 30ft (fun fact, the largest palm tree is found in the Amazon standing at 167ft)
- Bonsai palms: those that are cultivated by limiting their mature height to a maximum of 6ft only
Indoor palm trees
Palm trees that are grown indoors are those that thrive in environments with average humidity, medium-light, and consistent warmer temperature.
You might feel like the palm tree is not a suitable house plant because it could grow very tall and very leafy but here are some indoor palm trees that will prove you otherwise.
1. Belmore Sentry Palm (Howea Belmoreana)
Common names: the curly palm, kentia palm
It is also often confused with Kentia but this one has narrower leaves and more arched fronds making it look curled, hence the nickname curly palm.
It can reach a height of more than 10ft. It is a favorite accent plant in hotel lobbies, function halls, and pool sides. It has a slower growth rate than Kentia and is relatively easy to care for and maintain.
2. Kentia Palm (Howea Forsteriana, thatch palm)
If anything, the Kentia will require you to really give a wide indoor space for it to be placed if you intend to keep it as a houseplant.
It is a slow-growing palm with wide leaves (up to 1ft long) with fronds that are slightly arched. It is native to Australia and is also fondly called paradise palm. It loves bright and indirect light and is generally low maintenance. It is pricey though.
3. Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix Roebelenii)
It is native to Southeast Asia with a maximum height of 4ft when grown indoors and more than 10ft when grown outdoors. It has a unique look with a pineapple-like, chunky trunk and narrow leaves.
It is categorized within the feather palm type and has a slow growth rate. It is sensitive to its roots being disturbed so it does not really want to be repotted.
4. Areca Palm (Dypsis Lutescens)
Common names: golden cane palm, areca palm, yellow palm, or butterfly palm
It has minimum care requirements and can thrive even in a very minimally lighted room. It is native to Madagascar and it also goes by the name of butterfly palm. When grown indoors, its maximum height will only be at 6ft.
It is actually clustered under bamboo palms because its stems will look like bonsai bamboo at the mature phase. It is often confused with Kentia but this one has narrower leaves and is less expensive.
5. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)
It is native to Mexico and is considered as the most common indoor palm. It is loved for its tropical, bright green color, slightly arching fronds, and its indoor houseplant appropriate height of 4ft at maximum.
It is a slow grower, thus, requiring minimal care. It also fares well in many light conditions from bright to partial light.
6. Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
It is considered as the palm with the highest ornamental value and is also called as the elephant foot palm.
Interestingly, it cannot be categorized as either a palm or a tree because it is actually a large succulent, specifically a member of the agave family. It has long, arched leaves and a swollen base in the trunk.
7. Cascade Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum)
It is also called the cat palm or Mexico hat palm native to south Mexico and central America.
It basically gets its name from its cascading leaves and feathery fronds. They could grow to up to 6ft when grown indoors. It is typically found in areas near riverbanks and streams and thrives best under the shade and consistently moist areas.
8. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
It literally has bamboo looking canes producing clustered, dense, feathery fronds growing in a height range of 4 to 12ft and a width range of 5ft.
It loves direct bright light that is why if you want to cultivate it as indoor plant, you have to place it in a space where it will get more shade than light.
9. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
It is considered as a fake palm because botanically, it does not belong to the family. It looks like a dwarf bottle palm but its leaves have the appearance of thick ferns.
10. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
Fondly called as just rhapis, this one is native to Southeast Asia. It is distinguishable for its dark green, exceptionally shiny arching fronds. It is tricky to grow as it does not tolerate full sun and full shade. It has a mature height of 7ft and requires regular pruning.
11. Majesty Palm (Ravenea rivularis)
It is the perfect indoor palm because it is a slow-grower and it loves the shade. And since it loves consistent moisture too, you have to keep it in a space in the kitchen or bathroom. It can grow at a height of 10ft if cultivated indoors. It looks like a common palm in the Middle East. It could spice up any dull space in your home, anytime.
12. Yucca Palm (Yucca elephantipes)
The yucca is also called as the Spanish bayonet because of razor sharp leaves. But the elephantipes is the spineless yucca and does not have pointy, razor-sharp leaves.
As a matter of fact, the leaves of this one is edible and a known source of Vitamin C. It is drought-tolerant with strappy leaves arching out of the trunk.
Growing palms in containers has always been a trend and for many good reasons. One, container palms have limited full growth heights making them good houseplants both for indoor use and small garden accents.
Second, since it is grown in containers, they are highly movable especially during hard rains to avoid overwatering and over-moisture or when the temp drops and they are not cold-hardy. Here are some container plants that you can grow.
13. Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe Lagenicaulis, palmiste gargoulette)
It is called as such because its trunk looks like a bottle with a narrow top bulging down to the bottom like a typical bottle. It is fairly compact in size and has a maximum growth height of 12ft only.
It is a slow-grower so it really makes a good garden plant. But since it cannot tolerate colder temperatures, it must be moved during the winter.
14. Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys Renda)
It gets its name from its red-colored shaft at the topmost part of its trunk. It was initially known as the sealing wax palm because the red shaft has the same color as sealing waxes of the medieval era.
It is a very broad and tall palm standing at 20ft tall when cultivated as a houseplant (50ft in its natural habitat) and 5ft long, spreading leaves.
15. Fishtail Palm (Caryota Mitis)
It is a feather type palm although it does not look like one, let alone a palm tree. Its dark green foliage literally looks like fish tails.
It loves warm and humus soils. It is easy to grow, requiring minimal plant care requirements. It is very adaptive that it has been considered as an invasive plant in Florida.
16. Diamond Palm or Joey Palm (Johannesteijsmannia Altifrons)
There is something very regal about how it looks thanks to its very broad and large leaves (one of the largest leaves for palms).
It is a subterranean palm with roots established deep in the ground and large, fan-shaped leaves that grow outward from the root without trunk. It is native to Thailand and Malaysian rainforests.
17. Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus Wagnerianus, Chusan palm, Chinese windmill palm)
This one is native to China with a mature height of 25ft and leaves growing to up to 3ft. It is also tolerant to a wide range of growing conditions including drought and freezing point temperature. As a matter of fact, it is grown in very cold regions like Russia, Alaska, and Canada, among others.
18. Red Feather Palm (Chambeyronia Macrocarpa, flamethrower palm)
It is native to New Caledonia and is a rainforest palm. It is also called a red leaf palm or flame thrower palm because its new leaves appear first as red in color and then turning into bright green after two weeks. It has broad, arching leaves that can measure up to 12ft and a mature height of up to 20ft. It cannot tolerate colder temperatures.
19. Dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor)
It is an evergreen palm tree and one of the hardiest palm species available. It is called bush or scrub palmetto growing with a small trunk or none at all. It has more than 40 leaves in one spine. These leaves are narrow and pointed which in totality appears like a fan. It is drought and salt tolerant.
20. European fan palm (Chamaerops)
It is also called as the Mediterranean dwarf plant that can tolerate below freezing point temperatures and the hardest palm of all (up to -12degrees Celsius). They are also beautiful indoor houseplants in rich, well-draining, and consistently moist containers.
Cold hardy palm trees
Most of us would not know that there are some palm varieties that could thrive well in the cold since it is a common fact that palm is a tropical plant.
You must have wondered about palm trees thriving in colder areas where they, due to popular belief, are thought to not survive at all.
Here are some cold-hardy palm trees that you can plant if you are in regions with consistent lower temperatures.
21. Pindo palm (Butia Capitata, jelly palm)
It is considered as the hardiest palm under the feather palm types and it is also called as the jelly palm. It can grow to a maximum of 30ft known for its wide, chunky trunk and blue-green leaves and spiky fronds. It can tolerate temperatures of up to 5degrees.
22. Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona Chinensis)
This palm is also called a fountain palm and is native to China and Japan. It is named as such because of its easily recognizable deep-green, fan-shaped leaves (looking like an open fan).
It is loved because it is essentially a survivor, thriving well in a wide range of climate, light, and soil conditions. It is both drought and frost tolerant.
23. Sabal Palm (Sabal Palmetto, cabbage-palm, blue palmetto, Carolina palmetto, common palmetto, swamp cabbage)
It is a famous coastline palm and is the state tree of Florida and South Carolina. It is a very sturdy tree, standing stall even after hurricanes and tornadoes.
It can tolerate lower temperatures of up to 5degrees and can grow tall at 30ft maximum. It is also called cabbage palm.
24. Needle Palmetto (Rhapidophyllum Hystrix, Blue Palmetto)
Also called the needle palm, it is considered as the hardiest palm available as it could survive even at -5degrees and still thrive well under full sun.
It got its name from its sharp and pointed needle-like leaves that grow upwards without an arch. It cannot tolerate high salt levels in the soil so it is not a good addition in areas near the sea.
25. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa Repens)
It is a slow-growing, ground covering palm that could reach 10ft of full height even without trunks. They look like the Chinese fan palm but its leaves are more open and arched. It is used more as a groundcover making it a canopy plant for taller palms.
Sunset palm trees
Sunsets and palm trees are the images of tropical, island summers. There are millions of sunset palm trees on the net, some are even used as logos of surfing associations, tropical island resorts and on ordinary days, can be downloaded as HD wallpapers for your phone and computers.
The most commonly photographed palm type for sunset palm trees would be coconut palms and feather leaf palms.
Hawaii palm trees
Although Hawaii is the ultimate tropical island paradise, there is only a handful of palm tree species thriving there.
The most popular of them all is still the coconut palms growing tall in the shore stretch of the island. But around the coastlines of Hawaii, there are also bottle palms and traveler’s palms. And in its rainforests, you would find various species of date palms.
Types of palm trees in Florida
Florida, another tropical island paradise for palm trees shelters six major palm types. They are not only picturesque in Florida beaches and coastlines but also in hotels, casinos, and exclusive resorts. The types of palm trees in Florida are:
- Bamboo palm
- Bismarck palm
- Bottle palm
- Christmas palm
- Chinese fan palm tree
- Coconut palm tree
Types of palm trees in California
There is no other state in the US or a place in the world other than the entire Middle East and Asia and the Pacific that reeks of palm all over that California.
So much so that there are more than forty restaurants and food stalls with the name palm on it and the Palm Springs for what it is worth. True to it, there are more than sixty palm trees in California. Some of these would be the following:
- California fan palm (the only native palm of California)
- Washington fan palm
- Pygmy date palm
- Senegal date palm
- Canary Island date palm
- King palm
- Kentia palm
- Pindo palm
- Mediterranean fan palm
- Beach palm
- Alexander palm
- Myola palm
- Formosa palm
Types of palm trees in Arizona
For the Arizona climate, you will need desert thriving palms. They should be highly drought-tolerant, love full sun, and can also tolerate shade and consistent moisture. Here are some types of palm trees for Arizona.
- Date palm
- Canary Island date palm
- Silver date palm
- Senegal date palm
- Pygmy date palm
- Areca palm
- California fan palm
- Mexican fan palm
- Hybrid fan palm
Types of palm trees in North Florida
If you want to go very specific such as knowing what type of palm trees are good for North Florida, here are some that you can consider.
- Lady palm
- Cardboard palm
- Queen palm
- Pindo palm
- Phoenix Sylvestris
- Chinese fan palm
- Canary Island date palm
- King sago palm
- Bismarck palm
Miami palm trees
Another perfect palm region is the cityscape of Miami, again in Florida. Just like California, it reeks of everything palm. If you are wondering what palm trees are mostly found in Miami, here is a list of some of them:
- Royal palm (the tree emblem of Miami)
- Cabbage palm
- Saw palmetto
- Miami palm
- Coconut palm
- Canary Island date palm
- Dwarf palmetto
- Key thatch palm
- Needle palm
- Scrub palm
- Buccaneer palm
Frequently Asked Questions
Are palm trees native to Hawaii?
Not all palm trees are native to Hawaii. As a matter of fact, there is only one palm species native to Hawaii and that is Loulu palms found in the lush rainforests of Oahu, Honolulu, Kauai, and Big Island.
The coconut palms that are found endemically in Hawaii now were actually brought in by Polynesian voyages in the 17th century.
Where do palm trees originally come from?
There is no one native location of palm trees. But as far as fossil records are concerned, the first palm trees were already native to now Egypt, Asia, and the Pacific from at least 80 million years ago. On a list, here are the native locations of palm trees:
- Asia, Australia, and the Pacific
- Central and South America
- USA and Mexico
Which country has the most palm trees?
The country with the most palm trees is Indonesia and there are logical explanations for this.
One, Indonesia is a tropical country covered with acres and acres of rainforests where native palm trees like coconut palms, fan-shaped palm, and feather-leaf palms are mostly found.
Second, Indonesia is the world’s top producer of palm oil, supplying 44% of our global palm oil needs.
What city has the most palm trees?
The city with the most palm trees is definitely Los Angeles in California. It is home to 136,000 palm trees of different types since its introduction by Spanish missionaries in the 18th century.
Palm Springs alone is already adorned with more than 20,000 palm trees composed mainly of ornamental palms, coconut palms, and date palms.
How long do palm trees live for?
Some palm trees truly have a long life span. On average, palm trees could live for 40years. Some of them have even predetermined life spans. For example, coconut palms could live for 70-80 years. The Mexican palm, the tree emblem of Florida, has the longest known lifespan of 100 years and more.
How much does a full-size palm tree cost?
Depending on the type and species, a full-size palm tree can cost in between $40-2000. Some costly palm trees are the jelly palm, spindle palm, triangle palm, and royal palm, among others. There are outrageous prices too like the Coco de Mer palm tree from Seychelles and the Senegal Date Palm which both cost $10,000.
Related: How Much Do Palm Trees Cost?
Why are palm trees expensive?
Regardless of the type and species, palm trees are generally expensive because it takes time for them to grow. While most of them are not picky when it comes to their growing conditions, they involve a lot, albeit easy, care procedures for the next ten years or so. You will really have to invest in palm trees if you want them to grow beautifully.
What are the benefits of palm trees?
There are a thousand and one benefits that we could associate to palm trees and it will take us more than a day to cover them all so let us present the most immediate and most obvious.
- The edible fruits of palm are superfoods beneficial in regulating sugar levels, avoiding constipation, kidney stones, and skin conditions.
- They are organic but sturdy sources of mat roofing in many Asian and African indigenous communities and furniture material.
- They are the major source of vegan oil which is the palm oil and other raw ingredients for food like palm sugar, pastry ingredients from their fruits, and urinary tract healthy drinks from their juice.
- They provide natural shade and firewood.
How tall is a palm tree?
Again, this one depends on the type of palm tree you are asking for. Bonsai palm trees and indoor types typically have a height range of 2-12ft. In their natural habitat, palm trees normally grow from 20-60ft. The tallest archived palm tree is the Mexican fan palm tree found in the Amazon, currently at 167ft.
We have pretty summed up everything that we should talk about when it comes to palm trees.
From the types, to FAQs, to some interesting facts that you should know about, we have covered them. So between you and your want for palm trees inside your home and in your garden, the only thing to worry about is choosing what type you should be getting. But honestly, you can never go wrong with palm trees. The bulk of information here is enough reason why, right?