Last Updated on September 30, 2022
When you think of palm trees, you probably think of coconuts and sand. This is because people most associate palm trees with warm, tropical places like island beaches. (We have all seen Miami Vice right?)
Although most palm trees do grow best in warm, moist climates, they can also grow elsewhere. Most palm trees are incredibly adaptable and can survive in many conditions.
There are thousands of different palm tree species, and none of them are the same. They all have their unique characteristics, and they all look quite different from one another. In this article, we are looking to outline 12 interesting types of palm trees that are a mix of common and rare finds. We will also look at where Palms come from and the 8 different types of palm trees you are likely to find.
Table of Contents
- Where do Palm Trees Come From?
- How many Categories of Palm trees are there?
- 12 Different Types of Palm Tree
Where do Palm Trees Come From?
There is certainly a little debate over this, but it is said that these stunning trees originated in Middle Eastern areas like Iraq and Iran. Many types of palm trees are said to be thousands of years old, with some said to have dated back to 5,000-6,000 BCE.
Outside the United States, palm trees are naturally grown all over the Middle East and North Africa. This includes Iran, India, Pakistan, Peru, Mexico, Australia, Chile, and China.
Palm trees grow in sandy soil with abundant sunlight, high humidity, and high heat.
How many Categories of Palm trees are there?
When ‘palm trees’ are talked about, it can often cause confusion because there are so many different types of palm trees that it is easy to mix up the classification. Whilst there are a grand total of 3,600 palm trees altogether, we would argue that each of these 3,600 types of palm fit into 8 categories:
Fan Leafed Palms – Noticeable due to their fan-shaped leaves
Indoor palms can be cultivated out of their natural habitats at smaller heights. These types of palm are far more popular in the likes of cafes and restaurants.
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 15 degrees, perfect in the winter.
Drought-tolerant palms 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
12 Different Types of Palm Tree
1. Majesty Palm
The Majesty Palm is another Palm tree that has a wide trunk possibly for storing water. It first came to the United States in 1990 when Florida introduced it as a houseplant. It has attractive fronds that have varying shades of green.
2. Cat Palm
This palm tree is so small that it closely resembles a shrub. The trunk is nonexistent. Instead, the tree is thickly covered in broad leaves. The leaves are on very thin stems that reach out towards the ground.
The Cat Palm will only grow to be about 6 feet (2 meters) high. As it ages, the thick tree will begin to form a dense brush of shiny, thin leaves. The tree will also produce yellow, round flowers. When pollinated, small green palm fruits will be produced. As they ripen, they will turn into black drupes about half an inch long. Although these trees work best in warm environments, they are cold-hardy as well.
3. Bottle Palm
These palm trees are from the Mascarene Islands. Its name comes from its very uniquely shaped trunk. It is wide at the bottom and tapers off at the top, just like a bottle. This tree is very slow growing and will only reach up to 12 feet (4 meters) tall. At the top of the tree are large, arched leaves. The glossiness of leaves accents the green coloration of the leaves too.
4. Foxtail Palm
The foxtail palm tree is an impressive medium-sized palm tree due to its massive arching or curled fronds measuring 6.5 – 10 ft. (2 – 3 m) long. The ornamental palm is identified by its plume-like foliage that looks like a bushy fox’s tail—hence the name foxtail palm.
The foxtail palm is a type of smooth palm tree due to its self-cleaning nature. The palm tree grows 30 ft. (10 m) tall and has a light-grey to white trunk with distinctive rings.
5. Mazari Palm Tree
Native to southwestern Asia, the Mazari palm is more of a shrubby bush than a palm tree. It has palmate (fan-shaped) fronds that grow on clusters of stems. The leaves can grow between 1 and 4 feet. (30 – 120 cm) long.
The leaves have a striking appearance with very beautiful colors. The fronds are silver-blue or silvery-green in color, and it also has long tapering leaflets, which give the palm a spiky look. While it grows best in summer, it is also cool-hardy and can withstand temperatures as cool as 10 degrees F.
6. Sago Palm Tree
Native to Japan, the Sago palm is a member of the Cycadaceae family, which may take a palm appearance, but is botanically different. Its fern-like new leaves and short trunk can easily identify this palm tree.
Although the Cycas revoluta is known as the Sago palm, it is not entirely a palm tree. It can thrive in sandy, fast-draining soil as heavy, moist soil leads to prolonged health issues in the roots.
7. Florida Thatch Palm
Native to South Florida and many Caribbean islands, the Florida thatch palm tree is a slow-growing palm with fan-shaped leaves that grows up to 20 ft tall and 10 ft wide when fully matured. It’s drought tolerant and prefers well-draining sandy soils to thrive.
The palm’s slow growth rate and small size make it a great choice for small spaces. Its slow growth rate and bushy habit while young also make it suitable as a screening plant.
8. Bamboo Palm
This stunning tree has bamboo canes that produce feathery fronds that can grow to be nearly 12 feet tall. It loves direct bright light. That is why if you want to cultivate it as an indoor plant, you have to place it in a space where it will get more shade than light.
9. Yucca Palm Tree
The yucca is also called the Spanish bayonet because of razor-sharp leaves. But the elephantipes are a spineless yucca and do not have pointy razor-sharp leaves.
This tree’s leaves are edible and a known source of Vitamin C. It is drought-tolerant, with strappy leaves arching out of the trunk.
10. Lipstick Palm Tree
It gets its name from its red-colored shaft at the topmost part of its trunk. The tree was initially known as the sealing wax palm because the red shaft has the same color as the sealing waxes of the medieval era.
The stunning Lipstick palm 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.
11. Hawaaiin Palm Tree
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 short stretch of the island. But around the coastlines of Hawaii, there are also bottle palms and traveller’s palms. And in its rainforests, you would find various species of date palms.
12. Chilean Wine Palm Tree
Native to South America (Chile), the Chilean wine palm is the largest palm tree in the world, growing up to 100 ft. tall with a trunk of about 5 ft. in diameter. However, this massive tree has a very slow growth rate, taking hundreds of years to get to this size.
They are cut for their sap in their native Chile and is usually turned into a product that looks like maple syrup.
The Chilean wine palm is tolerant of drought and thrives well in dry, well-drained soil. The palm is hardy to USDA 7-10.
Palm trees are a type of evergreen plant belonging to the Arecaceae family of plants. There are over 2,600 species of palm trees that are grouped into over 200 genera. Palm trees are classified by their branchless stems and showy large evergreen leaves. Different types of palms also grow to varying heights.
Palm tree is a common name for perennial lianas, shrubs, and trees. They are the only family member of Arecaceae, the only family in the order Arecales.
The palm with the shortest life span is the Areca palm. These palms tend to live for 40 years and are the most common palms to find inside people’s homes. These palms are also significantly smaller than their longer-lived cousins, explaining why their lifespans are so much shorter.
Palm trees grow in tropical regions and can achieve great heights and live long lives. Common palm species include coconut palm, which grows in tropical regions around the world and provides not only food but also fiber, building materials and shade.
Also known as Cycas revoluta, this palm species is not only toxic to dogs but also humans. Sago seeds and nuts are the palm’s most toxic parts. This palm contains a toxic chemical called cycasin. When ingested in large quantities (any part of the plant), it can permanently harm the liver and neurological system.