Types of Tropical Palm Trees

By Tammie Jo , last updated August 27, 2011

In the proper growing zones, tropical palm trees are ideal for use in landscaping. Palm trees do require regular maintenance to grow and look their best, but can thrive for generations with proper care and some provide a delicious, edible fruit.

True Date Palm

Though many palm trees are referred to as “date palms” Phoenix dactylifera , or True Date palm, is the tree that produces the familiar fruit. When pruned correctly, the tree can grow up to 100 feet tall and fronds can grow as long as 15 to 20 feet and create a 40-foot canopy of leaves. Only female trees produce dates and male pollinators must be planted nearby. True Date palms are frequently used in landscaping in tropically-themed housing developments, modern office structures, and look majestic when lining a long drive or boulevard.

Pindo Palm

The Pindo Palm or Butia capitata, is a popular palm for landscaping because of its gracefully curving leaves and feathery fronds. The trunk of the Pindo palm can grow 15 to 20 feet tall with the leaves extending another 5 to 10 feet high. The palms of the Pindo are light green and fade into bluish gray with age. They curve downward giving the tree a very elegant appearance. Pindo produces a showy white flower and a small orange fruit known an “pindo dates” in some regions. It is a slow growing tree, and is attractive as a specimen plant or as part of a tropical grouping.

California Fan Palm

Washingtonia filifera is the Latin name of the California Fan palm. This tree is one of the stateliest of the palm trees, growing up to 60 feet tall with a spread of 15 feet at its crown. It is one of the most frequently grown palms in North America. Individual leaflets swing freely in the breeze, enhancing this palm’s tropical appeal. California palm produces clusters of white flower that grow into reddish—black fruits. However, the fruit doesn’t attract wildlife or create a litter problem.

Texas Sabal Palm

The Texas Sabal palm or Sabal texana, is a robust palm tree with a thick trunk that can grow up to 32 inches in diameter and 50 feet tall. The tree produces anywhere from 10 to 25 of the classic fan-shaped leaves that are popular with many tropical plant lovers. The color of the leaves varies with the amount of sun the plant receives. Trees planted in shady areas produce dark green leaves and those receiving more sunlight produce leaves that are lighter. The tree produces a small white flower and black fruits but is most popular for its distinctive trunk and large palms.

Canary Island Palm

The Canary Island palm, or Phoenix canariensis, is one of the overall largest tropical palms. Its thick trunk grows up to 100 feet long and produces up to 50 huge leaves that can reach 18 feet long. In the warmest growing zones, female trees bear an orangish, edible date if male pollinators are near. The leaves of the Canary Island palm are deep green with an attractive yellow-green stem.

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