Types Of Palm Trees
Different Types of Palm Trees
Let’s face it, we all dream of tropical paradises as the ultimate travel destination, and everyone’s picture-perfect vacation includes palm trees. But why only enjoy the scenery on a vacation or family getaway? Not all palm trees are exclusive to hotter to tropical climates. In fact, some are cold hardy and ideal for use as houseplants - ideal for those who live in cooler regions.
There are so many different types of palm trees. Palms are all around a lot of us and very few of us even notice because of the variation in species that exist today. Did you know there are over 2,600 species of palms in existence? Because of the endless choice and availability, we appreciate that choosing the right palm for you might be quite challenging. We’ve narrowed down some of our favorite palms to help you discover the best type of palm for your home or garden.
Most Popular Palm Trees
When it comes to palm trees, we immediately think of warm, tropical climates and so certain species of palm instantly come to mind. So, what are some of the most common palm trees? Or, at least most commonly thought of?
Coconut Palm Tree
The Coconut palm tree, also known as its botanical name ‘Cocus Nucifera’ is often the most thought of when it comes to palm trees, perhaps because it is one the world’s most economically significant species.
This classic symbol of palm grows in tropical climates, typically with salty and sandy soil. This is why they’re often seen on and around beach areas. Not only do they look majestic, but these exotic palms are also super versatile and have endless uses. Premature coconut water makes a healthy and refreshing drink, coconut milk is used for curries and palm wine, also known as palm toddy or "toddy’ (a sweet and milky alcoholic beverage) and also coconut oils and waxes. The shell of the coconut is used for crafting spoons, ornaments, and dishes, while the trunk is used as hard timber for furniture, instruments, rafters, roofing, baskets, brooms and more.
Date Palm Tree
The Date Palm Tree, also referred to as its scientific name ‘Phoenix Dactylifera’, and also ‘The Tree of Life’ in the Middle East, is one of the oldest forms of palm, producing a nutritious and sweet fruit called dates. Date palms grow quickly and large, reaching up to 100 feet in height, with strong straight trunks that look as though they are covered in bumpy scales, with feather-shaped leaves that can up to 12 to 18 feet in length.
Date Palms are highly valued because they provide abundant food in tough climates. They produce fruit for a long time and can survive long droughts and extremely high temperatures as opposed to other fruit-forming palms. An old Egyptian once said that “a date palm is the only creation of God that resembles man. Unlike other trees, a date palm gives more as it grows older.”
Zombie Palm Tree
Zombie Palms, also referred to as ‘Zombia Antillarum’, are a common type of palm tree that is native to Hispaniola. Despite growing on dry hill areas, zombie palms grow up to a height of 30 feet, producing beautifully smaller crowns that eventually surround it.
Love them or hate them, zombie palms boast a strikingly unique appearance with a trunk that looks to be wrapped in burlap and needles. This unusual palm is highly valued for its unique appearance yet smaller stature.
These inimitable plants are capable of sporting approximately twenty green leaves with white-hued flowers that produce round, attractive fruits. Another commendable feature of zombie palms includes their capacity to tolerate drought and their easy adaptability to where it is rooted. In fact, they are easy to grow trees that require little care, adding a wonderful accent to any outdoor space, garden or patio.
Caranday/Wax Palm Tree
The slow-growing Caranday Palm Tree, or Wax Palm, is a member of the Copernicia family - a rare but commonly known species that originates from Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. It gets its name for the wax produced by the leaves - commonly used in cosmetics, candles and even polishes.
While wax palms have a slow to moderate growth rate, and overall moderate drought and salt tolerance level, it also has stunning physical attributes that can’t be overlooked. Wax palms flaunt beautiful fan-like leaves that spread from the top of the trunk outwards up to around two feet in length and feature spikes that eventually drop off as the plant ages.
During the colder months, wax palms also produce yellow-colored fruits that eventually turn black as they ripen. They are completely edible but consist of a strong and bitter taste, followed by some sweetness.
Which Palm Is Right For Me?
Despite these being some of the most commonly known and heard of palms, there are over 2,600 species of palm trees in existence. With that in mind, there are other factors to consider when on the lookout for your perfect palm tree. Here are dozens of other palm tree types!
Cold Hardy Palm Trees
If you’re looking to produce a tropical or exotic look in your garden, then palm trees are absolutely essential. However, it isn’t exactly common to see palm trees in cooler climates, and this might be because many people don’t realize that several cold-hardy varieties of palms exist, assuming instead that they only grow in hot climates. This is a common misconception, so while it’s true that palm trees do typically hail from warm regions, there are many varieties that adapt well to cool temperatures and make ideal garden plants or trees in the unlikeliest of areas. Check out some of the best cold hardy palm trees.
Chinese Fan Palm Tree
Chinese Fan Palm Trees are also known as Fountain Palms, and as you’d expect by the name, they originate from China but also Japan. These palms have become an increasingly popular choice of palm across the world thanks to their ability to survive in a wide range of climates and weather conditions.
Chinese palms have a tendency to do well in both bright light and shade, making them easy to situate pretty much anywhere, and they’re also drought-tolerant and frost-hardy. It is recommended for beginner gardeners in climates where temperatures do not drop below 20 ºF. Though fairly uncommon outside of their more natural habitat, Chinese palms can grow up to 40 feet in height, with wide green leaves in a circular shape. They are stunning to look at and easy to care for, making them the perfect addition to even a beginner’s exotic landscape.
Windmill Palm Tree
Another species of palm native to China would be the Windmill palm tree. Like the fan palm, windmill palms are also tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions. Once mature, they are drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant and can grow in both full sun or partial shade. As well as this, windmill palms are exceptionally cold hardy and can withstand snow and temperatures as low as 0 °F. If that sounds exciting and surprising to you then you must check out Palm Trees In The Snow.
In fact, they’ve even been spotted thriving in locations such as Russia, England, and even Alaska, making it an ideal way to add a tropical touch to your garden, even in colder climates.
It is good to bear in mind that although fully grown palms are on the verge of invincibility, ( to some degree ) younger palms still require some protection from low temperatures. It is best to grow in containers when young so they can be moved indoors for winter. Or look into winter plant storage.
Needle Palm Tree
The needle palm trees are great for colder climates, being one of the cold-hardiest palms there is. It’s pretty much immune to the cold, with the ability to tolerate temperatures as low as -5ºF and can thrive in both full sun or shaded environments.
However, it's worth noting that Needle Palms require quite a large amount of space with the ability to grow up to 10 feet in height and the same in width. Therefore, this species of palm is probably only ideal if you have quite a lot of space to dedicate. Also, it may not be the most child-friendly of palms because it consists of needle-like leaves which are very sharp and
pointed. These grow from the ground upwards so it may not be good to expose fully in your home garden or public landscapes.
Indoor Palm Trees
As well as exotic landscapes, palm trees make ideal house plants as they are accustomed to growing in consistently warm temperatures with generous amounts of light. Better yet, slow-growing palm trees require little maintenance and so are well-suited for people who lead busy lifestyles and require something that is easy to care for
Areca Palm Tree
This is perhaps one of the most popular palm trees for indoor use, due to the easy-going nature and low maintenance needed when it comes to care. Despite being native to Madagascar these Areca palm trees are able to withstand low-light and often go by the common name of ‘Butterfly Palm’.
On average, they reach around 8 feet in height - though when grown indoors they usually only reach around a maximum of 6 feet - kind of ideal for those who don’t have large amounts of space to dedicate to indoor greenery.
One of the most loved features of these palms is the feathered fronds providing the palm with an attractive tropical look. And not only do they look iconic, but areca palms also require very little care and maintenance. You can keep these satisfied in bright but indirect sunlight, and only require watering when the soil feels dry. In fact, if you have a shaded corner of your home that needs smartening up, this palm would be a great choice if you don’t mind very slow growth. Just remember to water less regularly if kept in the shade. These palms like moderate watering but can also withstand periods of drought.
Parlor Palm Tree
Native to Mexico, the Parlor Palm is perhaps one of the most common types of houseplant when it comes to palm species. These palms grow very slowly but eventually reach a height of 4 feet in height, making it the ideal size for any interior space. It also means it won’t quickly outgrow its designated home on your shelf or side table, and won’t require frequent re-potting. Therefore, it is quite ideal for those who like their greenery but also lead busy lifestyles.
The most noticeable feature of parlor palms is the iconic green feathered fronds, adding vibrancy and natural greenery to any home space. However, as well as the compact size and beautiful appearance, these palms are easy to care for. They can be situated in bright indirect light as well as shaded areas, and only requires occasional watering. Bear in mind, however, it’s vital not to over-water these palms as they can be susceptible to root rot. Ensure the top few inches of soil are dry before watering again.
Sentry Palm Tree
The Sentry Palm, also known as ‘Howea Belmoreana’ and the ‘Curly Palm’, is a feather-type palm that displays wide arched fronds. The leaves also have a habit of curling slightly, hence the nickname.
Typically, the sentry palm grows a little taller than your average indoor palm, reaching a height of around 10 feet when fully mature so it’s best to ensure you have plenty of space for this before investing. Despite its demand for extra space, however, its stature makes it a great focal point in hotel lobbies or in shopping malls, thriving in bright but indirect light, with only the need for an occasional mist/spray.
Container Palm Trees
A popular and common way of growing palms is in containers, and this works well for many reasons. For starters, container-grown palms will limit growth in terms of height, making them
ideal for catering to indoor use or garden and patios with limited space. Also, by growing in containers, it means they can be grown in almost all climates, as palm trees sensitive to the cold can simply be moved indoors during the cold winter months, and then moved back outside once the weather warms up.
Below are some common species of palm that are often grown in containers, and why they benefit so well from this method of planting.
Fishtail Palm Tree
The fishtail palm tree is another feather-like type of palm, however, you wouldn’t necessarily notice this by just looking at it. This palm tree is unique in terms of appearance and so it is often overlooked as a palm tree at all. The most iconic features are its unique leaves which are shaped like fishtails, hence the name, which are flaunted in a bi-pinnate pattern. It’s truly remarkable to look at and makes for a beautiful focal point in any area once fully matured.
Native to India, Asia and also the South Pacific, the fishtail palm also commonly thrives in areas like Florida and the Caribbean, thanks to the warm climate and rich soil. As well as this, fishtail palms are regularly grown in containers - especially when young and at a more compact size.
Another reason for this is due to these palms not being cold-hardy; they are incredibly sensitive to the cold and can only tolerate temperatures as low as 32 °F. Therefore, with that in mind, if you live outside of USDA hardy zones 10 and 11, you will need to bring this tree indoors during the winter to protect it from the cold.
Despite this method of growth, this palm can grow to reach heights of up to 20 feet tall, so as it matures, it should be planted in a climate suitable where the palm tree no longer needs to be portable.
Red Feather Palm Tree
This vibrant colored palm originates from the South Pacific rainforest, and is known as the Red Leaf Palm and ‘Flame Thrower Palm’. It gets its name from the stunningly bold red leaves the tree produces when they first appear. These new leaves range from a dark maroon shade to more vibrant poppy reds, but eventually transform into a classic green in around two weeks of sprouting.
The Red Leaf Palm can grow to be an extremely broad tree when fully grown, however, it is a slow grower and takes a lot of time, effort and care to achieve. It’s perfect for planting in containers and growing indoors as a houseplant, or at least closer to the indoors e.g. on a patio or terrace. This species of palm is not cold-hardy and needs to be brought into the warmth during winter months in order for it to live and grow healthily.
When fully grown, the red leaf palm can reach a height of up to 20 feet, with the leaves becoming up to 4 feet each. Therefore, as the tree grows larger, it should be situated somewhere in USDA growing zones 10 and 11 as the tree becomes less portable.
Thanks For Reading!
I hope this article was helpful in satisfying your curiosity about the different types of palm trees. As you’ve read, with over 2600 different species, there’s a lot to choose from and consider when it comes to your next home addition.
Take the time to study the needs of individual palms before buying, to ensure you can provide adequate care and the maintenance it needs. Please SHARE this on Facebook!