Palms are among the most widely cultivated family of plants. In fact, you can find around 202 genera of palm trees and more than 2,500 species worldwide. Most of these types and species are restricted to subtropical, tropical, and warm temperate climates.
Get to know more about the different types of palm trees and how to identify them through this article.
What is a Palm Tree
A palm tree can be defined as a type of evergreen tree. Most people think that evergreen trees only include fir trees as well as those that look like pine trees. In reality, though, evergreens refer to trees that have the capacity to keep their foliage the entire year – and palm trees are part of that classification.
Another fact about the palm tree is that it belongs to the Arecaceae family. It can be easily identified through its branchless stems that tend to exhibit large and wavy leaves. Various tree species that fall under palm trees are available in various sizes and shapes.
You can find really small ones – the smallest of which is only around six feet. You can also find other palm plants that grow so tall, even up to a hundred feet.
Palm trees are also among the most well-loved trees at present mainly because they have a somewhat ornamental look. You will notice the uniqueness and beauty of each palm tree. Several of these trees are also used for commercial purposes, especially when making products like dates and coconut.
How to Identify Palm Trees
It is no longer a secret that there are indeed numerous species and types of palm trees right now. The question is, how can you identify which one is which? In most cases, the primary part of the palm tree that people look into when it comes to identifying its type or species is the leaf.
They make it a point to check the leaf’s shape. It is the most effective means of distinguishing the different species of palm trees. When it comes to the leaves, you can identify them as:
- Pinnates or those with feather-like leaves
- Palmates or those with fan-like leaves
Aside from the leaves, you can also examine the trunks to determine the kind of palm tree you are dealing with. You can find some types of palm trees that have very unique trunks while others do not have any trunk at all.
You can also find palm plants with smooth trunks while others are kind of ringed or bumpy in the bark. There are also trunks covered in fiber or husks, making them appear spiky or hairy. You can use all these features in identifying the specific palm tree that is in front of you.
Types of Palm Trees
Here are the different types of palm trees that you can grow at home. Most of them are fall under the different types of indoor palm tree while others are also versatile enough that you can also grow them outdoors.
The bamboo palm is one of the best palm varieties you can grow if you are looking for one that can do well when grown and cultivated indoors. In fact, it is one of the palm varieties sold mainly for indoor use.
The bamboo palm derived its name from the way it grows. It has a group of steps that come out of the ground and compose most of the size of the plant. Such stems resemble the look of a bamboo plant’s canes.
The topmost part of each stem also features a set of long and waving leaflets, often emerging in sets composed of around sixty of them. The whole length of the leaf also noticeably comes in several feet.
This container palm plant works incredibly well if you are looking for a plant that can make your home or living space look livelier. Make sure to provide the bamboo palm with sufficient light and acidic soil to support its growth.
Chinese Fan Palm
The Chinese fan palm is a recognizable palm tree native in the Far East and Asia. It can be described as a palm tree with only a single stem. It also has ornate drooping leaves. As for its name, Chinese fan palm, it was said that it came from its palmate leaves that are shaped like a palm.
You will notice these leaves arching out starting from the top of the plant’s thick and tall stems with each one having a growth of around 30 to 50 feet. The Chinese fan palm tree also boasts of its spread that reaches up to 12 feet.
European Fan Palm
Consider checking out the European fan palm tree, too. This particular indoor palm plant can be expected to grow either as a small palm tree or a large shrub with a max height of around 15 feet. It often comes with several evenly sized trunks.
You will also notice the increasingly textured look of every trunk in the European fan palm as it continues to grow. However, it is also possible to stop this palm species from suckering, if that’s what you want, thereby forming a growth habit composed of a single stem.
You will also notice that the leaves of this European fan palm are wide and thin. These leaves also feature several divisions capable of forming a set of sharp points you can see in this plant’s foliage.
The majesty palm tree is also famous for its ability to grow fast. With its fast-growing nature, it is highly likely for it to reach up to 10 feet in just a span of 10 years. This means that it can grow one foot every year – after which, it will slow down its growth significantly.
It can reach a max height of around 35 feet, though, in most cases, this plant does not go beyond 20 feet. You will also notice the majesty palm favoring moderate shade the most while requiring frequent fertilization.
One thing you should take note of about the sago palm is that it does not truly represent the family of palm trees. It has a similar look and name but in reality, it is not a palm. In actuality, it is one of those types of indoor palm that belongs to the cycad family.
Despite that, the sago palm tree is still considered by many as a palm and makes use of it as a dependable plant for indoor containers. One reason why many perceive this plant as a palm species is the close resemblance between the two. You will notice that the sago palm also comes with long and arching leaves as well as a feathery texture and shape.
The sago palm also has the advantage of only needing only a bit of light. It can slowly grow and stay at a size that many consider as manageable. To produce better results, give your sago palm a minimum of 3-hour sunlight daily and let it stay in soil with sufficient drainage.
Areca Palm or Butterfly Palm
The Areca palm tree can be defined as a plant with multiple stems that feature arching fronds. You can see them holding long summer flowers in the color of yellow and tiny yellow-orange palm fruits.
One of the most identifiable features of the areca palm is its butterfly shape. This is mainly because of the many stems composed of leaves curving upwards. You can expect this plant to grow at around 20 to 40 feet outdoors, especially when in a tropical climate.
If you are in a place with a colder climate, then you can still grow the areca palm indoors as it also looks great as an evergreen ornamental palm. Also called for its other names, like the golden cane palm, butterfly palm, yellow palm, golden feather palm, and Madagascar palm, the areca palm grows well in tropical and subtropical climates.
As a drought-tolerant plant, it can also adapt to different types of soil.
There is also what we call the lady palm, which is smaller in stature compared to other palm varieties. It features dense clusters composed of fan-shaped fronds. These fronds are in dark green shades.
Once the lady palm matures, there is a high chance for the fronds to become a bit offset, thereby forming a layered and thick look. The lady palm tree is also one of those plant species that can survive in gardens that have sufficient room for it to spread. You can also grow them outdoors if you want to enjoy fragrant yellow blooms once spring comes.
Coconut Palm Tree
The coconut palm tree bears really popular fruits, though, only a few areas in the US are compatible with the successful growth of this plant. The reason is that the coconut palm is one of those that need the hot weather in order to develop and bear fruits.
This particular plant boasts of its long and feathery fronds. There is also a slight curve that you can see in one stem. Coconut palm trees are also great choices as houseplants because of their extreme ability to tolerate salt.
If you are looking for an ornamental plant you can grow indoors, then you will never go wrong by choosing the ponytail palm tree. Also called the elephant foot or the bottle palm tree, the ponytail palm will definitely look good in any room.
You can actually easily identify the ponytail palm through its stem, which is characterized by a thick brown and swollen base. You will also notice its end displaying attractive thin and green arching leaves. It also gives out a bushy display composed of green foliage, turning it into an aesthetic tropical palm grown indoors in sunny areas.
Canary Island Date Palm
The Canary Island date palm also makes an incredible choice for palm plants because of how durable and tough it is. Also called the pineapple palm and canary palm, it falls under the hardy type of plant.
The Canary Island date palm is so hardy and tough that it can handle and tolerate a wide range of conditions, including low temperatures reaching 15 degrees Fahrenheit, poor soil, and drought.
Pygmy Date Palm
You can also choose pygmy date palm trees if you are in search of a beautiful indoor ornamental palm tree. It also one of those types of indoor palm that works amazing as a garden accent. The pygmy date palm is one of those species that are incapable of growing over 10 feet.
It also features a single trunk that looks spiky and is a bit hidden with the aid of the plant’s bushy pinnate fronds. It also has cream-colored flowers capable of producing dates. However, these fruits are not as delicious and flavorful as the ones that a genuine date palm grows.
The parlor palm is a versatile option as this Southern Mexico palm tree native can grow both indoors and outdoors. It has several stalks that tend to emerge or come out from the ground, the reason behind the shrub-like appearance of the parlor palm.
You will also notice its foliage that has a light texture. If you decide to grow the parlor palm as an indoor houseplant, expect it to withstand low light. The plant can also grow up to 6 feet tall when indoors.
Mexican Fan Palm
You may also want to grow the Mexican fan palm, which is famous for its fast-growing quality. It grows so fast to the point that its full growth can reach a hundred feet tall. It also boasts of its max spread of 10 feet, which means that this tree with a single trunk is kind of narrow.
You will also notice light to dark-green fronds shaped like a fan topping the Mexican fan palm. One more distinguishable feature of this palm species is the fact that its dead leaves do not end up dropping off. What happens, instead, is that they hang down, thereby forming a dense skirt, surrounding the crown shaft.
The Pindo palm, otherwise referred to as the jelly palm, is famous for being a cold-hardy plant. It is crucial to note that despite the ability of the Pindo or jelly palm to reach 15 to 20 feet long upon maturity, it still falls under the slow-growing type. This makes it suitable for gardens that only require small palm trees.
The pindo palm also has the advantage of thriving well in either partial shade or full sun. It can also tolerate or withstand most types of soil. It can produce fruits that range from light orange to brown that are also ideal for use in making jelly, the reason behind its name. Moreover, this palm species produces white, yellow, and red blossoms.
The fishtail palm is also a beautiful palm tree with multiple stems and features glossy and light green leaves that can be likened to the tail of a jagged fish. It has large groups of tiny deltoid leaflets on its long stems, thereby creating thick ruffled frond layers.
In addition to the bipinnate fishtail leaves that you can easily identify, the fishtail palm is also capable of blooming aesthetically pleasing creamy-white flowers. It also tends to produce dark red fruits after the flowers. Note, though, that the dark drupes you can see on the fishtail palm are toxic and poisonous so never eat them.
Another famous type of ornamental palm is the foxtail palm, which derived its name from how its leaves look. In general, it has bushy leaves that contribute to its foxtail-like look. This plant is a native to Australia known for its rapid growth and ability to reach around 20 feet in height.
You will also notice the plume-like foliage of the foxtail palm. Also, note that apart from its rapid growth, this is also among the types of indoor palm that gains recognition because of its ability to survive in various environments.
In other words, it can grow in almost all kinds of soil. It can also thrive even when in very cold condition. Note, though, that it is quite picky in terms of the amount of light it receives. It also grows well when under full sunlight all the time.
Florida Royal Palm
There is also what is widely recognized as the Florida royal palm, which can be identified as a majestic palm featuring a tall and smooth trunk that is relatively skinny. It is wonderfully crowned by arching dark green fronds.
The Florida royal palm is also easily recognizable because of its rounded fruits in purplish black or red. You can also easily identify this tree because it has a smooth green crown shaft, an erect trunk with a growth of around 65 to 100 feet, and a bulging stem.
This particular palm tree is also known for its other name, porcupine palm, which is mainly because it is kind of short. The fact that the needle palm is very short makes it look like it almost does not come with a trunk.
What the needle palm tree has, instead, are several pointed and long leaves that surround it. An advantage of this palm tree is its ability to withstand the cold. It can even live in extremely cold temperatures, including those that are lower than 10 degrees F. It can also withstand droughts and can adapt to various types of soil.
Another palm species classified as small is the cat palm. The small size of this plant is the reason why it has a very close resemblance to a shrub. It does not also have a trunk and in its place are broad leaves thickly covering the tree.
These leaves of the cat palm can also be seen on thin stems reaching out to the ground. Once the cat palm starts to age, there is a high chance for it to start forming a dense brush of thin and shiny leaves. It is also capable of producing round and yellow flowers and small green fruits after pollination.
The acai palm actually got its name because it is capable of producing acai fruits, the ones that gain wide popularity nowadays. The reason is that aside from being sweet and delicious, they also contain amazing nutritious properties. Acai is a great source of omegas, amino acids, and antioxidants.
The beneficial properties present in the fruits of the acai palm are among the reasons why you can now find them as part of the ingredients in many products, like energy drinks and those for cholesterol and weight loss. Note, though, that this palm tree is not that hardy, which means it can’t withstand drought and the cold that well.
Coming from the Mascarene Islands, the bottle palm is also a popular tree species because of the unique shape of its trunk. You will notice the bottom being kind of wide while tapering off once it reaches the top, similar to how a bottle looks like.
The bottle palm is one of those trees with a growth pace that is basically slow. You will also notice arched and large leaves on top. Moreover, it has leaves with a kind of glossiness capable of accenting the green coloration.
Another thing to remember about the bottle palm is that it likes to live under the full sun. It can also withstand salt really well. It can’t tolerate excessive amounts of cold as there is a high chance for it to get damaged when exposed to cold weather.
California Fan Palm
Recognized by many other names, including the American cotton palm, desert fan palm, and Arizona fan palm, the California fan palm is one of those plants capable of tolerating the cold. It can even handle cold temperatures of 15 degrees F and lower, provided it is mature enough.
Apart from being cold-tolerant, the California fan palm is also drought tolerant. It also has this nice trait of being widely adaptable, meaning it can handle almost, if not all, conditions, environments, and temperatures.
What’s so great about the cane palm is that you can often grow it in buckets, so you will have some incredible and fascinating houseplants. In the buckets, this plant will be unable to grow a trunk but should help in forming a great upright clump consisting of leaves.
It is also possible to grow this palm tree outdoors, provided you are in a frost-free zone. When outdoors, the cane palm will be able to develop a few trunks that resemble thick bamboo canes.
While drought-tolerant, this plant still requires proper drainage for survival. You can provide such a requirement if you simply pot it up using a lightweight planting mix.
With its ability to supply abundant clusters of very flavorful dates, you will never have a hard time identifying the date palm. It also has a distinctive, long, and rough trunk. You will notice clusters of red, yellow, or brown fruits.
As for its fronds, you will notice a crown composed of them. The fronds are arching feathery, which can get into a max height of around 20 feet or 6 meters long. The date palm also has spiny leaf stems that can grow around 13 to 20 feet long.
Moreover, you will notice the huge leaves of the date palm. It also has an impressive light green crown, which is around 20 to 30 feet. It should be noted that you can also find other date palm trees capable of producing bunches of dates in other colors, including deep red, golden yellow, black, and yellow.
Another interesting palm tree you may want to familiarize yourself with is the Kentia palm. Otherwise referred to as the paradise palm, the Kentia palm is commonly sought by a lot of people who wish to grow indoor plants.
The Kentia or paradise palm also gained recognition as it can handle low-light conditions, cool temperatures, and infrequent watering. Also, note that the Kentia palm is a slow-growing species that can reach around 12 feet tall when grown indoors. There will also be feather-shaped fronds that are a bit arching, thereby adorning them.
The palmetto palm tree is also one of those elegant palm species that can grow really tall. A native to Florida, this tree is distinguishable, thanks to its incredibly looking spiky and fan-shaped fronds and leaves.
The palmetto palm tree also features straight and thick trunks capable of stretching to a max of 65 feet tall. The fact that this species is the official tree of the states of Florida and South California is also the reason why its trees remind you of the beaches there.
Otherwise called the lipstick palm, the wax palm gained recognition because of its very enchanting and nice color. It features a bright red crown shaft along with deep green leaves that grow at around five feet long.
You will also be fond of the bright green base of this trunk accented by white rings. Moreover, you will notice the greenish-white blooms of the wax palm, which is the reason behind the small black fruits that appear during the summer.
There is also the very popular peach palm tree, which usually grows highly nutritious and edible fruits that resemble a very large peach. The stem in this palm tree can grow to around 8-inch-thick while being decorated with stiff black pines.
It also has pinnate leaves that are around 12 feet long. These leaves also further feature long-pointed leaflets that have short spines present in their veins. As for the fruits of this plant, rest assured that they are edible, but you have to cook them extensively before eating them.
Also called the silver date palm tree and the sugar date palm, the Sylvester palm tree is also one of those species worthwhile to mention in this list. It has a few similarities to some palm trees, but it is also different in the sense that it can’t bear shorter leaves and does not seem to sucker.
As a native plant to India, expect the Sylvester palm to be truly sturdy and durable. It can adapt well to various types of soil while having the ability to tolerate drought and the cold, especially in places that are lower than 15 degrees F.
Chilean Wine Palm
The Chilean wine palm tree has an arching and dense crown consisting of around 40 to 50 feather-like fronds. All of them are then supported by the huge colossal trunk of this tree.
Chilean wine palm also has the advantage of being drought-tolerant. It can grow up to zone 8 while being versatile enough that it can grow both indoors and outdoors. It has a slow growth, though, but the result is worth it, especially once you see its produced purple and yellow blooms.
If you are looking for a palm tree guaranteed to leave a good impression, then the Bismarck palm is for you. Some say that this plant looks a bit different from traditional palm trees as it has a short structure.
However, you will also notice that this Bismarck palm tree comes surrounded by huge and reaching leaves. These leaves work on surrounding the base. The Bismarck palm also features dense foliage.
The windmill palm tree is also one of those palms that are on the shorter side. It has trunks that look a bit spiky. You can expect the windmill palm to be part of the hardiest trees worldwide, especially in terms of handling temperatures.
It can even handle a temperature of around 5 degrees F. While several of the palm trees are capable of withstanding colder temperatures, they still prefer climates that are hotter. This makes the windmill palm tree different from them as it is not fond of being exposed to hot temperatures and is fonder of being in a cold place.
The oil palm is also a great addition to your collection of plant trees. Aside from being a highly efficient plant that bears oil, it gained worldwide recognition because of its effectiveness when used for other products, like those that are oil-based, including soaps and cooking oil.
It has a single stem that tends to grow upwards and features pinnate fronds that can go as high as 15 feet long. You will also notice the trunks being wrapped in fronds, thereby forming a rough and tough look.
The oil palm also has plum-sized fruits in the shade of red that tends to grow in big clusters. These fruits are the ones that contain around 50% of the oil of this palm tree.
You may also want to pick the Christmas palm, an ornamental palm tree capable of bearing clusters of fruits that are bright red in color during the late fall. This is actually the reason why this palm tree looks like it has some holiday decorations.
This palm tree also features a smooth and slender trunk that has leaf scars derived from old fronds. You will also immediately notice the crown shaft of the Christmas palm, which has glossy pinnate leaves capable of arching together as a means of creating a nice-looking green crown.
Also called the sabal palm, the cabbage palm is recognized as part of the most widely recognized and used palm tree species in the US. The cabbage or sabal palm actually got popular due to its high level of durability.
It is also extensively adaptable plus it can handle various conditions and needs, like drought, salt, and the cold.
With the drought-tolerant nature of the triangle palm, it is safe to say that it is one tough indoor palm tree. It is a great addition to your home because apart from being drought-tolerant, it does not require a lot of maintenance. The triangle palm can even survive even with a small amount of water. A bit of pruning can also help it grow well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What palm tree is the best choice for indoor growth?
Many say that it is the parlor palm, which is known for being an incredibly looking houseplant loved for its clumping and compact growth habit. It is even the most popular palm tree for indoor use and has been cultivated for 50 years and more as houseplants.
Can palm trees survive indoors?
Yes. You just have to make sure that the climate indoors is suitable for your palm tree. Just give your indoor palm tree proper environmental conditions. For instance, you should keep the correct temperature and ensure that you do not overwater them. Once well-established, you can expect palm trees to survive in any indoor environment.
How many types of palm trees exist?
There are more than 2,600 palm tree species and types that are now grouped into more than 200 genera. You will also notice palm trees being classified into branchless stems as well as large and showy evergreen leaves.
How to identify a queen palm?
You can easily identify a queen palm through its height. Queen palms are often taller varieties that can grow up to six feet annually. This can make them reach a max height of 40 feet. You will also notice their singular, smooth, and gay trunks featuring scars of old fronds.
How to take care of indoor palm plants?
In general, indoor palm plants are easy to care for. One crucial thing to do is to put the potted palm in a spot that is bright and receives indirect sunlight. Make sure to use well-draining potting soil, too.
You can also expect your indoor palm to thrive well if you have moist soil. It should not be too dry or soggy. Water this plant once you notice the topmost part of the soil drying out. It is also advisable to fertilize the plant occasionally, maintain high levels of humidity, and put the plant in an area with average room temperatures.
How often should an indoor palm be watered?
Caring for your palm tree will always involve watering it adequately. However, take note that too much water is not good as it results in some problems, like root rot. Meanwhile, insufficient amounts of water may result in your indoor plant getting dehydrated or worse, dying.
In that case, stick to the required watering frequency of two to three times weekly. This should give your indoor palm enough water without the risk of overwatering it.
Where do palm trees grow best?
Palm trees grow best in areas with plenty of sun and have well-draining soil. These plants are salt-tolerant also means that you can grow them without a problem close to the ocean.
Various palm tree species are indeed suitable for indoor growth. If you are looking for a plant that you can grow indoors with ease, go for palm trees. Just make sure that you try to learn more about the different palm tree types and species that are safe to grow indoors, as well as those you can grow outdoors, so you can pick the one that truly suits your fancy.
Articles you might also like: