Updated: Aug 18
Despite its tropical feel, the United States remains home to only 14 types of native palm species. Contrast this with the over 2,500 unique variations growing around the world and it's easy to see that much of our coastal greenery has been introduced from other climates!
Palms are an iconic landscape of many states in the southeastern and southern U.S., from North Carolina to Texas, Arkansas to Oklahoma. Although most types of palm trees prefer low-level areas like along shorelines or riverside flats, some have been seen enjoying mountainous elevation too! And under favorable conditions, they can thrive far outside their native habitats - so take out your green thumb wherever you go!
14 Palm Trees Types That Are Native to United States
Palms are one of the most beautiful, diverse, and versatile trees with 14 different species inhabiting various climates across Earth. While some palms remain in their natural environment, two species – coconut and date palm - have become so well adapted they've been able to establish themselves outside cultivation. Of these fourteen varieties, only nine constitute full-bodied mature trees while others present more as shrubs or stunted growth depending on environmental conditions; Cabbage Palmetto, Royal Palm Texas Palmetto California Fan Palm Dwarf Needle Palm being among them.
1. Buccaneer Palm Tree (Pseudophoenix sargentii)
Buccaneer Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii).
Buccaneer Palm is a stunning, heat-loving palm tree native to Florida and the Caribbean. Revered for its signature deep green foliage with feathery fronds up to seven feet long, it grows into a medium size of 35 feet in the wild though typically only reaching 10 feet when cultivated. Scientifically known as Pseudophoenix sargentii, this majestic species also goes by Cherry Palm or Palma de Guinea - an impressive addition to any garden!
2. California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera).
With a unique fan-shaped leaf structure and its ready adaptation to hot deserts, Washingtonia filifera stands out as the only native palm species of North America's western United States. These majestic trees reach an impressive height in their natural habitat - up to 60 or 75 feet tall with trunks over 3 ft wide! The iconic California Fan Palm can be found growing in rocky areas between southeastern California and Yuma County Arizona while more than one hundred examples exist hidden away deep in Canyon Kofu mountains near the San Jacinto Mountains.
3. Cabbage Palm Tree (Sabal palmetto)
Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto)
With its ability to thrive in both wet and dry conditions, Cabbage Palmetto is an incredibly tough palm that can reach heights of up to 80 feet. Its distinctive grayish-brown trunk is covered with "boots" - 1-2 foot wide old leaf bases – while its vast crown holds fan-shaped fronds that are 5-8 feet long. This adaptable tree line extends from North Carolina down into Florida, where the largest population (150k acres) grows between Peace River & Lake Okeechobee!
4. Dwarf Palmetto Palm (Sabal minor)
Dwarf Palmetto Palm (Sabal minor).
With its native range extending from the Atlantic Coast in central Florida to Monkey Island, North Carolina and throughout much of the Gulf Coast all the way into Mexico, Dwarf Palmetto Palm (Sabal minor) is an extremely cold hardy species. Not only does this palm thrive in diverse habitats - including floodplains, forests, and swamps- but it can even push through drier areas. It features a short trunk underground that slowly grows up to 3 feet tall with fan-shaped leaves reaching 6 feet long comprised of 35 evergreen leaflets which make it popular among landscapers looking for year-round color.
5. Florida Silver Palm (Coccothrinax argentata)
Florida silver palm (Coccothrinax argentata)
With silvery undersides to its fan-shaped leaves, the Florida Silver Palm is a unique and eye-catching addition to any South Florida landscape. Growing up from slender trunks of 6 inches in diameter, these palms are known for their ability to thrive in warm climates along both shores as far down through all the Keys. Despite reaching heights of 25 feet tall or more when mature, they can also take on shorter shrubby forms due to different environmental conditions - making them an adaptable choice no matter where you live!
6. Jamaican Thatch Palm (Thrinax parviflora)
Jamaican Thatch Palm (Thrinax parviflora)
Never heard of Jamaican Thatch? Often overshadowed by its more popular cousin, Key Thatch, this tropical palm is just as extraordinary. With a slender trunk about 6 inches thick and fan-shaped leaves up to 3 feet wide with lighter-colored undersides, the species (Thrinax parviflora) grows in Florida's southern region plus various Caribbean islands.
7. Key Thatch Palm (Leucothrinax morrisii)
Key Thatch Palm Tree (Thrinax morrisii)
Found in Southern Florida and the Caribbean islands, the Key Thatch Palm is an eye-catching mid-size palm. It has a grey trunk with split petiole bases topped by bright blue-green or yellow-green fan-shaped fronds that make it stand out from similar palms such as Coccothrinax which bears white fruits. Its scientific name of Leucothrinax morrisii also known as Thrinax Morrisii may be lesser known but this attractive plant still goes by many other common names including Brittle Thatch, Broom Palm, Peaberry Palms, and Sea Thach PALM for those eager to find it amongst its tropical surroundings!
8. Louisiana Palmetto Palm (Sabal louisiana)
Old Dwarf Palmetto Palm (Sabal minor var. louisiana).
Louisiana Palmetto Palm, scientifically known as Sabal Louisiana or (Sabal minor var. Louisiana), bears a striking resemblance to the Dwarf Palmetto - however, one distinct difference elevates it above its cousin: the inclination of this unique plant species to form trunks that reach heights between 3-6 feet and sometimes even higher! Found in select swampy regions along both sides of the border between Louisiana and East Texas, this remarkable Palm distinguishes itself from similar plants by means of a trunk formation rarely seen elsewhere.
9. Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix).
Needle Palm, scientifically known as Rhapidophyllum hystrix, is a unique plant native to the coastal margins of sprawling subtropical states in America's east Gulf and south Atlantic regions. This species is renowned for its cold-tolerant nature - it can be found growing from South Carolina right down through Florida and even into Mississippi and Alabama! As an evergreen shrub with no trunk forming, this slow-growing variety produces slender stems around 6 feet long that emerge closely together from one compact base up to 3.5ft tall adorned by sharp needlelike spines between each frond.
10. Paurotis Palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii)
Paurotis Palm Tree (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii).
The Paurotis Palm, also known as Acoelorrhaphe wrightii and Silver Saw Palmetto Palm, is a beautiful clustering palm with unique slender trunks that grow in tight clumps from an underground main stem. Reaching heights of up to 20-30 feet tall and 5-10 feet wide, this native Floridian boasts stunning fan-shaped fronds arranged into crowns on orange-green stems - the upper side is bright green while underneath silvery shade dazzles any onlooker's eye. Surprisingly limited to Florida’s Everglades area but not its Keys region; it's no wonder why these palms are so highly sought after by plant lovers all over!
11. Royal Palm (Roystonea regia)
Royal Palm Tree (Roystonea regia).
The regal Royal Palm is an iconic symbol of the Florida Everglades, easily identified by its grand stone-grey trunk and majestic crown that can reach heights of up to 90 or 100 feet in nature. Growing in three southernmost counties near tidal water and lowlands, this tree has been a source of great beauty for centuries – but it's also one close to disappearing due to destruction from fire as well as excessive transplantation for use on ornamental sites. For these reasons conservationists are now striving even more urgently than ever before to protect what beautiful trees remain so future generations may enjoy them too.
12. Scrub palmetto (Sabal etonia)
Scrub Palmetto Palm (Sabal etonia).
Florida's unique landscape has many hidden gems, including the Scrub Palmetto palm. Native only to this state and found predominantly in sandy areas of its lake region, these palms have an underground stem that can grow up to 6 ft tall with four-seven fan-shaped fronds containing 30–50 leaflets each. Despite their beauty, they remain relatively unknown due to limited distribution - making them a special surprise for anyone experiencing the natural wonders of Florida!
13. Saw Palmetto Palm (Serenoa repens)
Saw Palmetto Palm Tree (Serenoa repens)
The hardy Saw Palmetto Palm (Serenoa repens) is a resilient native of the subtropical Southeastern United States, with its presence stretching from South Carolina to Louisiana. This incredible species stands out among other trees thanks to its remarkable ability to thrive on sandy shores and tolerate most soils and conditions - even being regarded as an almost weed-like plant in some pinelands. Growing slowly at around 7–10 feet maximum height, these palms display unparalleled longevity; some specimens have been estimated to be up to 600–700 years old! It's sometimes known by names such as Silver Saw Palmetto Palm or Scrub palm too!
14. Texas Palmetto Palm (Sabal mexicana)
Texas Palmetto Palm (Sabal mexicana/texana).
The Texas palmetto palm is an awe-inspiring ornamental species that can reach heights of up to 50 feet, with a trunk diameter spanning 3 feet. This stately tree belongs to the Sabal genus and is closely related to other well-known sabals such as Cabbage Palmetto - yet it has its own distinct characteristics including larger and heavier fan-shaped leaves. It grows naturally in areas around the Rio Grande River between Mexico and Texas, where one of the most famous groves near Brownsville resides; making this stunning palm widely popular throughout tropical climates from Gulf Coast through Central America.