Palm trees are synonymous with tropical regions and warm weather, bringing a sense of relaxation and exoticism to any landscape. There are more than 2,500 different types of palm trees, each with their unique characteristics, growth habits, and requirements and they all come under the Arecaceae family.
Obviously, we can’t cover each and every one of these species in detail, but there are definitely some incredibly stunning and common ones that are loved and adored by homeowners and landscapers alike.
This article shares the 20 most popular and common types of palm trees, and we’re certain you’ll be able to quickly find one that complements your garden or backyard landscaping project.
The Two Main Types of Palm Trees
Although there are many various types and species of palm trees, deciding whether to plant a dwarf or standard-sized palm in your backyard is the best place to start. Let’s look at the main differences between both of these:
Dwarf Palm Tree
The average dwarf palm tree is less than 20 feet tall and can grow with a single large trunk or several trunks that are clustered together.
Dwarf palm trees can be used as statement trees in a small garden or as shrubs or hedges if you prefer the clustered look of the palm tree.
Standard Palm Tree
A standard palm tree is typically any other palm tree that is over 20 feet tall. It may still have a single, large trunk or a number of smaller trunks grouped together.
For instance, the classic coconut tree would be considered a standard palm tree. On standard palms, the fronds, or leaves, also get quite big.
20 Most Popular Types of Palm Trees
Whether you want to learn more about the subtropical trees in your neighborhood or you want to plant one yourself, here are some of the most popular and common types of palm trees to check out.
1. Coconut Palm
Botanical Name: Cocos nucifera
USDA Zones: 10-11
The coconut tree unquestionably belongs to the palm tree family. Coconut trees, which date back to prehistoric times, are adored and highly appreciated today for their many products, including fibers and culinary purposes.
The tree typically stands between 60 and 80 feet tall, and its leaves can grow up to 15 feet long. A typical coconut palm won’t flower until its seventh year, but once it does, it will produce between 50 and 100 coconuts per year.
Unfortunately, you might not be able to grow a coconut tree in your typical backyard because they need a lot of humidity and sandy soil to thrive.
2. True Date Palm
Botanical Name: Phoenix dactylifera
USDA Zones: 8a – 11
The date palm is an ancient and well-known palm tree that is native to the Middle East, Africa, and some parts of Asia. The date palm, which is prized for its delectable dates, grows abundantly in tropical climates and is still a valuable resource and food source today.
The stunning, classic palm can reach a height of approximately 23 metres (75 ft). Its stem, which is prominently defined by the clipped stubs of old leaf bases, ends in a crown of beautiful, glossy, pinnate leaves that is about 16 feet (5 meters) long.
Fortunately, it can thrive in any type of soil even poor and rocky soil. It’s also quite drought-resistant once established, and can withstand temperatures of up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit!
Several date farms in California have closed owing to various circumstances, and they are selling the trees. This makes mature date palms easily available for affordable prices.
3. Foxtail Palm
Botanical Name: Wodyetia bifurcata
USDA Zones: 9b – 11
Foxtail palm, a native of Australia, is becoming increasingly popular in sunny regions of the United States including Texas, California, and Florida. Like a fox’s tail, fronds have a bushy, full appearance.
The foxtail palm can reach heights of 30 feet and grows quickly in full sun, but it tolerates both bright and shady environments. The pinnately compound leaves or fronds can grow to be 8 to 10 feet long and are attached to a petiole or stem that is 6 to 12 inches long.
To give the new fronds room to spread out, place this palm at least 8 feet away from a house. Young foxtail palms have a sparse appearance, and their leaves may appear to be torn, but these plants will fill in as they grow.
4. European Fan Palm
Botanical Name: Chamaerops humilis
USDA Zones: 7b – 11
Any palm tree with a broad, fan-shaped leaf or fronds is technically referred to as a “fan palm.” The European fan palm is one of the most popular types of fan palms because of its compact growth, attractive appearance, and ability to grow in temperate climates.
It’s a clumping, slow-growing palm that can reach heights of 8 to 15 feet and spreads up to 6 to 10 feet. The European fan palm is the only palm native to Europe, and is hardier than most other palm trees. Plus, they also do well in drought and light frost.
This palm stands out from other plants in the landscape due to its finely textured fronds. The color of the leaves can range from a lovely light green to a stunning silver. Short, curved trunks support the fronds. Tiny clusters of yellow blooms appear in the spring, followed by inconspicuous fruits.
This palm, whether it is young or mature, creates a wonderful sculptural element in a garden or patio pot.
5. Cat Palm
Botanical Name: Chamaedorea cataractarum
USDA Zones: 9 – 11
The cat palm, also known as the cascade palm, is a popular indoor palm tree that has delicate fronds and a slow growth rate. It’s an incredibly common and popular type of dwarf plant that’s often grown as a houseplant.
Outdoors, it can grow to a height of 7 feet, while indoors it stays under 4 feet tall. These palms thrive in moist soil and abundant sunlight, developing multiple trunks in clusters. Since this palm tree is often grown in containers, it makes it an excellent choice for those who want a smaller palm tree for their home.
6. Pindo Palm
Botanical Name: Butia capitata
USDA Zones: 8a – 11
The pindo palm, which is native to Brazil but thrives as an ornamental tree in the Mediterranean and Southern United States, is known for its robust trunk and feathery fronds. These trees can occasionally reach 100 feet in height, but this is uncommon because they are slow-growing and thrive in high humidity.
This beautiful palm tree is also known as the ‘Jelly Palm’ in some areas since it’s an indigenous plant that produces edible berries that can be converted into jelly with a sweet banana/pineapple flavor. The fruits are about an inch in diameter and have a seed in the center.
This palm has a distinctive look that is also practical. It is frequently used for smaller lawns and looks great as a focal point. The average height of this palm tree is around 15 to 20 feet.
7. Areca Palm
Botanical Name: Dypsis lutescens
USDA Zones: 10a – 11
Areca palms, also known as golden cane palm, can be found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but despite this, they are a common palm tree that can be grown successfully indoors. In fact, these palms are prominent in interior design, but they can also be grown outside in subtropical climates.
These palms have smooth, occasionally golden trunks that resemble bamboo clusters. Its fronds are slender and full, like bamboo leaves. When they are grown outside, they are often used as a privacy screen. They thrive when planted in the spring and grow at a slow to moderate rate.
8. Majesty Palm
Botanical Name: Ravenea rivularis
USDA Zones: 10 – 11
Although commonly referred to as a houseplant, the magnificent or majesty palm can grow much larger when planted outside. In fact, majestic palms are challenging to grow indoors since they require the sunlight and humidity that a natural outdoor setting can provide. They develop on a single, substantial trunk and have a lovely shade of white.
When planted indoors, majesty palm will grow roughly one foot per year until it reaches four to six feet, at which point it will slow down significantly. In California, South Florida, and other tropical areas, it is occasionally planted as a landscape tree since it grows more quickly outside where its roots are unrestricted.
9. Sonoran Palmetto Palm
Botanical Name: Sabal uresana
USDA Zones: 8a – 10b
The Sonoran Palmetto Palm, aka Sabal Uresana, is a single trunk palm that grows slowly yet is quite attractive. When young, the deeply split leaves of a costapalmate fan are a striking silvery-blue color. This desert palm tree can grow to heights of up to 25 to 50 feet tall.
It’s native to Northern Mexico at elevation of 3,000 feet. Once established, it has a good tolerance to wind and drought and is cold hardy down to about 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant in sandy soil that drains well and is in a sunny location.
10. King Palm
Botanical Name: Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
USDA Zones: 9b – 11
The king palm, also known as the Alexandra palm, is known for its stunning flowers and ability to grow in flooded areas. This palm tree, which is native to Australia, has also become naturalized in Hawaii. It does well in moist, rainy areas where other plants can’t grow and take root as well. The fronds are feathery and elegant.
It’s a favorite palm in South Florida, and can grow up to 40 feet tall. The regal and classic look of this palm tree makes it a beautiful addition to any lawn.
11. Sabal Palmetto Palm
Botanical Name: Sabal palmetto
USDA Zones: 8b – 11
One of the most cold-tolerant and hardy palm trees known to man is the Sabal palmetto palm, which serves as Florida’s official state tree. It does well in salty conditions and can grow outside all winter in most southern states and along both coasts without any protection.
Given its widespread distribution, it’s likely a palm tree you’ve seen before. It’s also commonly known as the cabbage palm, blue palmetto, or Carolina palmetto.
The name ‘cabbage palm’ comes from the flavor of its young, edible leaves, or ‘hearts,’ which resemble cabbage. Sabal palms have leaves that are fan-shaped, costapalmate, and curved, with blades that are 3 to 4 feet long and petioles that are 6 to 8 feet long.
When it is not deficient in nutrients, this species has a full, round canopy on top of a trunk that is 10 to16 inches in diameter and can grow up to 40 feet tall.
12. Needle Palm
Botanical Name: Rhapidophyllum hystrix
USDA Zones: 6b – 10
When it comes to being able to handle cold, the needle palm is one of the most frost-resistant palms that homeowners or landscapers can buy today. Plus, it’s one of the easiest palm trees to grow!
This cold-hardy palm plant from the southeast can grow in a wide range of soil types and varying degrees of sunlight. It can survive temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, but you need to make sure that your area has very hot summers because that’s essential to the needle palm’s overall survival.
These palm trees are only 10 feet tall and have spiky, decorative leaves. Although it grows slowly, it’ll reliably fills bare spots in your garden and provides a green backdrop for flowers.
13. Triangle Palm
Botanical Name: Dypsis decaryi
USDA Zones: 10a – 11
The triangle palm is indigenous to Madagascar. Despite being widely grown all over the world, it is currently endangered in Madagascar. The triangular palm, however, is adored as an ornamental tree due to its gorgeous flowers and leaves, which thrive in well-draining soil and full sunlight.
A graceful triangle shape is formed by the overlapping leaf bases on this stunning palm. The fronds form long hanging threads that drape from the treetop.
With its striking, triangular shape, this palm is a clear winner for most unusual shape. In a garden, use it as a focal point to make your lawn even prettier. Typically, trees reach heights of 10 to 15 feet.
14. Spindle Palm
Botanical Name: Hyophorbe verschaffeltii
USDA Zones: 10a – 11
The spindle palm is a popular decorative palm tree because of its wide trunk and attractive feathery fronds. It can be a beautiful addition to any garden or outdoor space if you happen to live in the correct climate. This palm tree can be grown in a pot or in the ground, however it is extremely cold-sensitive and may die if the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
This tropical palm gets its name from its spindle-shaped trunk, which is thin at both ends and wide in the middle. It works well as a specimen tree or as an accent tree. The long fronds can grow up to 10 feet long and arch beautifully. Supplemental watering helps trees reach heights of 20 feet. In its natural environment of the Mascarene Islands, which are located in the Indian Ocean, the spindle palm is in danger of going extinct.
15. Caranday Palm
Botanical Name: Copernicia alba
USDA Zones: 9 – 11
The unusual Caranday palm is indigenous to South America. It is also referred to as wax palm. The waxy substance produced by the leaves is used to produce candles, automobile polish, and lipstick.
The Caranday palm has a strong, grey, cylindrical trunk that preserves the spiky bases of previous leaves for several years when the palm is young. Older leaves have a tendency to bend downward, resulting in a waterfall of foliage close to the treetop.
Trunks grow straight, reaching a height of 50 feet. When the palm matures, these rough spines fall off, revealing smooth bark.
A cascading fountain shape is eventually formed by the foliage, which grows right from the top of the trunk. These fronds are fan-shaped, range in color from silver to light green or light blue, and have pointed edges.
16. Zombie Palm
Botanical Name: Zombia antillarum
USDA Zones: 9b – 11
The zombie palm is a great palm tree if you don’t want to worry about caring for your palm. It grows up to 10 feet tall and produces several spiky leaves up and down its clumping stems.
The zombie palm thrives in areas with salty air, such as Florida, and requires little maintenance overall. A multi-stemmed cluster is formed by this palm tree, which grows very slowly.
This palm is native to Hispaniola, which includes Haiti, and derives its name from the long trunk spines used as needles in voodoo dolls. Because of their supposed ability to keep zombies away, this palm’s leaves are also frequently used as roof thatch.
17. Florida Thatch Palm
Botanical Name: Thrinax radiata
USDA Zones: 10a – 11
The Florida thatch palm is very popular because of its wind resistance and salt tolerance. It features a slender trunk that makes it look like its leaves come out of nowhere.
It’s also known as Jamaican thatch or chit and is frequently seen along South Florida roadways and making it a lovely palm tree for landscaping. Its compact size makes it ideal for use in tight spaces, such as narrow yards, along fences, or along the edge of parking lots. As long as there is a 15-foot clearance, it thrives inside pool cages.
This particular palm tree cannot thrive outside of hardiness zones 10 through 11, but it only grows to a height of 20 feet and is regarded as a very attractive ornamental palm tree.
18. Windmill Palm
Botanical Name: Trachycarpus fortunei
USDA Zones: 7 to 10
The windmill palm is capable of growing along the Pacific Northwest coastline and is the perfect choice if you’re hunting for a palm tree that is more cold-tolerant than average. This single-trunked palm tree is native to mountainous forests of China and Japan, and grows to an average height of 50 to 80 feet.
This upright tree, also known as the Chusan or Chinese windmill palm, adds regal majesty to any landscape. Leaves have a distinct fan-like appearance, while some are somewhat divided toward the base, giving the tips a weeping effect. Windmill palm is easily available, tolerates urban conditions, and is well-suited to growing in courtyards or containers.
19. Senegal Date Palm
Botanical Name: Phoenix reclinata
USDA Zones: 9 – 11
This clumping palm is native to sub-Saharan Africa’s arid environments, as its name suggests. Brown fibers cover the stems and contrast wonderfully with the long green leaf fronds.
Trunks yield suckers that, if left unchecked, grow into large, impenetrable clumps. To create a clump that highlights the gracefully arching trunks, carefully remove suckers as they form. These palm trees can reach heights of 25 to 50 feet.
20. Sago Palm Tree
Botanical Name: Cycas revoluta
USDA Zones: 8 – 11
Sago palm trees are popular because of their compact size and low maintenance requirements. Sago palms are commonly grown as container plants because they are hardy indoors in USDA zones 4 through 11 and 8 through 11 outdoors in your patio.
The Sago Palm, which has fern-like leaves, has changed little over its 2 million-year existence. This palm tree typically grows between 8 and 15 feet tall, prefers full sun, little watering, and well-drained soil.
When planted in groups, sago palms need to be spaced 4 to 6 feet apart and are drought resistant once established.
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Melissa Askari is a biologist and master gardener who is known for her contributions to the field of sustainable living. She is a regular contributor to Planet Natural, a website that provides information and resources for gardening, composting and pest control. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices and helping people create beautiful, healthy gardens using natural methods. With her expertise in both biology and gardening, Melissa is able to provide valuable insights and advice to gardeners of all levels. Her passion for the natural world is evident in her writing and her dedication to promoting sustainable practices that benefit both people and the planet.