When you think of palm trees, you think of warm and sunny climates, tropical beaches, and gorgeously landscaped gardens. You recognize different types of palm trees by their feather or fan-shaped fronds and fiber-covered stems or trunks. Most types of palm trees prefer to grow in warmer planting zones. However, there are some species that are tolerant of temperate climates and colder temperatures. You can even grow some indoors as houseplants.
The various types of palm trees are a type of evergreen plant that falls into the Arecaceae family. There are currently over 2,600 palm tree species that are grouped into 200 different genera. You can classify the palm trees by their branchless stems and big evergreen leaves that are very showy.
Also, different types of palms grow to different heights. For example, various coconut palms have longer wispy leaves and get up to roughly 100 feet tall. Date palms can get up to 75 feet tall. Some smaller types of palm trees do very well indoors and get between six and nine feet tall at full maturity. The dwarf palm trees do very well indoors when you plant them in containers.
In this post, we’ll go over 22 tropical types of palm trees. We’ll give you information to help you tell them apart, and you’ll find a picture to give you a visual cue as well. This will help you choose the perfect type of palm trees for growing inside or out in your garden.
1. Açaí Palm (Euterpe oleracea)
This is a very skinny type of palm tree that produces several clustering stems that can get up to 65 feet tall. You can identify this palm tree type by the bunches of berry fruits that it grows that are around an inch in diameter. They pinnate, long leaves are up to 10 feet from tip to tip.
Acai types of palm trees are native to South America, and you’ll find them growing in floodplains and swamps here. The most valuable feature of this plant is the berries. The berries are smaller black drupes that grow on the drooping stems. In a single bunch, you can get between 500 to 900 fruits.
2. Arikury Palm (Syagrus schizophylla)
This smaller ornamental type of palm tree has dark green to olive-hued fronds that arch gracefully to form a spreading crown. This is a very popular accent palm that is perfect to plant in compact patio gardens as it won’t get taller than six feet. The leaves spread between four and six feet at full maturity.
This type of palm tree is suitable to plant in subtropical landscapes in zones 9 to 11, and you recognize this palm tree for the flat, arching leaflets that grow on jagged, long petioles. Also, this tree blooms with pale yellow flowers on arching, thick pendulous stems that are up to three feet long. One way to identify this palm tree is the toothed leaf stems. This is a very unique feature that most palm species that fall into the Syagrus genus rarely have.
3. Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)
This is a very easily-identifiable type of palm tree due to the big fronds that come in silvery gray or steely-blue coloring. The fan-shaped palm leaves will grow in every direction, and this creates a very nice pale green spherical crown that is 24 feet wide by 20 feet tall. The short, stout trunk adds to the visual appeal of this plant.
The stunning silver-blue fronds give the look of a rounded, spiked fan that can get over 10 feet wide. It’s a very slow-growing cultivar that will reach roughly 40 feet high in parks and gardens. It’s very popular to plant in Arizona, Texas, Southern California, and Florida. The egg-shaped fruits are another defining feature of this plant. You’ll get rounded, chocolate-brown drupes that grow in bunches like grapes. The individual fruits measure 1.5-inches long and can grow on four foot long stems.
4. Bottle Palm Tree (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis)
This type of palm tree gets the name from the bottle-like shape the trunk takes on. The enlarged trunk is short and fat, and it’s actually the identifying feature of this type of palm tree. This trunk helps differentiate this particular palm from the Spindle palm that swells in the middle of the trunk.
This palm tops out at 10 feet, and it produces three or four very large palm leaves at the top. The pinnate leaves can easily reach 12-feet long and have 2-foot long leaflets. It grows very well in warmer planting zones like those found in California or Florida, or you can grow them in containers and bring them inside during the colder winter months.
5. California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
The California Fan Palm is a type of palm tree that is medium-sized and an ornamental tree with fan-shaped, long fronds with a sturdy columnar trunk and fibrous threads. The identifying feature of this tree is the leaves as they are a waxy green color that spread out into a fan shape. This palm grows between 40 and 60 feet tall at full maturity.
The tan and grayish-hued trunk is a second identifying feature on this type of palm tree, and it has a very erect stance that looks like a form of bonsai tree. Also, it’s easy to recognize this tree due to the skirt-like shape of dead fronds that form near the top of the tree. Once the leaves start to die, they turn brown and start to droop.
You may hear this type of palm tree referred to as the petticoat palm because it has a distinct crown on it. The fan shape the leaves take on also gives it the name of the Desert Fan Palm. The botanical name refers to the thread-like strands you’ll find on the palmate leaves.
6. Cat Palm (Chamaedorea Cataractarum)
This smaller type of palm tree has very pinnate, slender dark green leaves that grow on thin stems that extend straight out of the ground. This is a unique trunkless tree that gets up to six feet tall outside and three feet tall inside. The clumping nature of this type of palm tree will form a very dense thicket of slender, shiny leaflets. The pinnate leaves and skinny green stems are the defining features of this plant, along with the trunkless growth pattern and the flowering stems that produce ball-like, yellow blooms.
If you pollinate this palm tree, you’ll get a host of shiny green, small palm fruits that ripen to black drupes that are a half of an inch long. In warm climates, people use this type of palm tree as a garden plant. However, due to the bushy, clumping habit, you can use it as an evergreen hedge plant too. In cooler climates, it works well planted in containers indoors if you give it a lot of sunlight.
7. Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis)
This taller type of palm tree has a columnar, thick, trunk that is gray and smooth, and it has a stunning crown with arching, long feather-like fronds. This hardy palm’s identifying feature is the straight, broad trunk that measures up to three feet in diameter. For a base, this is a swollen size. It’s considered to be one of the most impressive types of palm trees in the world, and it gets between 60 and 80 feet tall. It has a very dense crown that grows upward and has palmate fronds that get 15 feet long. Unlike a lot of types of palms that have a fibrous trunk, this one has a smoother gray one.
You’ll see smaller purple and yellow flowers blooming in the summertime, and this adds to the appeal. When the tree is immature, it has large arching fronds that are at odds with the stumpy look. The slow growth also means that it’ll take years to reach the mature height. It’s native to Chile, but the single-trunked palm is very cold hardy and can do well in temperate planting zones. You can find them growing just in Ireland, South Africa, and Southern and Northern California. You may also hear it called the palm honey tree, honey palm, or the Chilean coquito palm.
8. Christmas Palm Tree (Adonidia merrillii)
If you want a miniature type of palm tree for your garden, this one is a great pick. It’s a pretty ornamental palm tree that is small when you compare it to date or coconut palms. The size makes it one of the most popular types of palm trees on the planet. It won’t get over 25 feet tall at full maturity, but some smaller cultivars top out at 15 feet. The big pinnate leaves will arch up from the top of the stem to form a pretty green foliage crown.
9. Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)
Coconut palms are one of the easily recognizable types of palm trees available. It’s a taller species that tops out at 100 feet, and it offers a brownish-gray trunk that is smoothed and slightly curbed. The sprawling, drooping fronds are also recognizable, and they can get between 15 and 20 feet long. This tree is known for the tropical fruits, and the coconut fruit is yellow or green when it matures. The mature brown coconut seed gets covered by a very hairy fiber that is inside a thick husk. The edible portion of this fruit is the white meat you find inside the shell. A single tree can give you up to 75 fruits every year, and the rounded, large fruits grow in bunches that are amongst the leaf stems and close to the central stem.
Coconut palms are types of palm trees that grow in coastal areas where they do exceptionally well in salty, sandy soil. In southern states and various tropical countries, you’ll see them growing in parks and long streets and beaches. There are dwarf types of palm trees in this category available if you don’t have room for a full-sized one. The Malayan Dwarf doesn’t get higher than five feet at full maturity. You can grow this palm tree inside, but they’re very challenging to keep healthy.
10. Date Palm Tree (Phoenix dactylifera)
The date palm tree is arguably one of the easiest to identify because it grows big clusters of dates. Also, the palms have a very unique rough trunk that is long, clusters of fruit in red, yellow, or brown, and a crown that has feathery, arching fronds that get up to 20 feet long. They get between 70 and 75 feet tall at full maturity, and the spindly leaf stems can be between 13 and 20 feet long.
The large leaves on this tree have up to 150 leaflets that are a foot long. All in all, the impressive crown is a light green color and can be between 20 and 30 feet wide. As the name suggests, this tree is known for the sticky fruits that are a type of drupe. The edible oval fruits have a wrinkled skin and are usually dark brown. However, you can get dates in black, deep red, golden yellow, or yellow coloring.
11. Dwarf Majesty Palm (Ravenea hildebrandtii)
One incredibly popular short type of palm tree that does well in landscaping and gardens is the Dwarf Majesty Palm. This is a single-trunked cultivar with pinnate, darker green leaves. The trunk is very slender at only three-feet thick, and it doesn’t get over eight-feet tall at full maturity.
The arching, wide, and large leaves on this type of palm tree create a very nice focal point in a subtropical garden. The bright green leaves can get up to three feet long and have up to 100 leaflets growing. The wide foliage crown creates a striking contrast with the thin trunk. This palm is also small enough to grow in containers, and it’s one of the best potted trees you can grow outside.
12. Florida Royal Palm (Roystonea regia)
This majestic type of palm tree has a grayish-white, skinny, and smooth trunk with a pretty crown of arching fronds in dark green and rounded red or purple palm fruits. The identifying features of this tree are the very green, smooth crownshaft, erect trunk with a bulging base, and the height of 65 to 100 feet. The crown is also very distinct, and it has 15 arching fronds that are up to 13 feet long.
During the spring, this type of palm tree produces small pinkish-white flowers. After the pollination period, this gives way to round drupes that are 0.4-inches wide and 0.6-inches long. The smooth, slender trunk with the bushy crown gives the image of tropical landscapes. It has an unusual growth habit too. It will shed the old fronds, and they’ll peel from the crown to give you a green, smooth trunk underneath. They grow well in Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and Southern California.
13. Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcata)
This impressive type of palm tree is a medium size due the the curling, arching, massive fronds it produces that can get between 6.5 and 10 feet long. It’s an ornamental palm that you identify by the plume-like foliage that looks like a very bushy fox’s tail. This is where it gets the name. Another feature you can use to identify this tree is the egg-shaped, large orange palm fruit it produces. The oval fruits are olive green at first and ripen to a deep red or orange color and measure two-inches long.
This smooth palm tree has a self-cleaning nature. It will get up to 30 feet tall at full maturity with a whtie to light-gray trunk coloring. The dead fronds will drop from the crown of the tree to reveal a smoother green trunk underneath. If you look at the bark, you’ll notice very distinct rings.
14. Mazari Palm (Nannorrhops ritchiana)
Instead of being a true palm tree, this is actually more of a shrubby bush. It’s native to southwestern areas of Asia, and this type of palm tree has fan-like leaves that grow out of a stem cluster. The leaves can easily get between one and four feet long. They lend a very striking look to the plant as a whole.
Another interesting thing about this type of palm is the coloring. The fronds are a silvery-blue or silvery-gray color, and they have longer tapering leaflets that lend a very spiky appearance to this palm. Like any other cold-hardy plant, this one requires hot summers to grow. It’s cold-hardy down to 10°F.
15. Mediterranean Dwarf Palm (Chamaerops humilis)
This flowering type of palm tree is very small growing and compact, as the name suggests. You’ll get a few trunks that grow in a cluster that make it look more shrub-like than tree-like. In warmer climates, this tree can get between 10 and 20 feet tall at full maturity. The fronds on this tree are silvery-green or green in color, and they grow to form a fan shape. The leaflets grow to be between 20 and 30-inches wide, and each leaf tops out at five feet.
This type of palm tree is highly prized for the ornamental value it brings to your garden, as well as the cold hardiness. It thrives in the hot sun, but it can do surprisingly well when temperatures dip down to 10°F. It’s a very elegant palm that lends a tropical look to people who live in temperate climates.
16. Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis)
As the name suggests, this type of palm is famous for the oil you get from pressing the fruit. It will get up to 66 feet tall at full maturity, and it has huge pinnate fronds that measure between 10 and 16 feet long. The fruit from this tree grows as red berries that are roughly the size of a plum. This is a single-stemmed cultivar that is very attractive, and the leaves grow in an arching, upward habit that give it a fun vase-shape look.
The recognizable characteristic of this type of palm tree is the large groups of red palm fruits that grow close to the trunk in 200 to 300 count bunches. The fruit on this tree is egg-shaped and oblong, and it measures an inch wide by 1.4-inches long. The oily pulp is what you use to create palm oil, and the oil you press from the seeds is palm kernel oil when they sell it.
17. Peach Palm (Bactris gasipaes)
This is a fruit-producing type of palm tree that offers big clusters of red palm fruits. Peach palms will get up to 66 feet tall at full maturity, and it’s a multi-stemmed tree that has a spiky crown of pinnate fronds that get up to 10 feet long. This is a kind of taller clumping tree with edible fruit. The pulpy fruits are usually red in color, but you can find varieties that produce orange or yellow peach-like fruits.
One big identifying feature of this tree is the spiny trunk. It has a very slender trunk that measures 10 to 25 centimeters in diameter. However, if you get up close, you’ll see that it actually has thorns in circular bands that ring the grayish-brown trunk.
18. Pindo Palm (Butia capitata)
This type of palm tree is classified as a cold-hardy, slow-growing, small tree. It’s a great option to add to your residential landscape, and you may hear it referred to as the jelly palm. The mature plants can usually reach between 15 and 20 feet high, but they’re an extremely slow-growing species. This means they’re a nice option for any garden that has limited space and needs thinner trees.
This short tree will thrive if you plant it in an area that gets partial shade to full sun, and it can tolerate most soil types. The fruits it produces are brown to light orange in color, and many people use them to make jelly. It also produces attractive flowers in shades of yellow, red, or white.
19. Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
As the name suggests, this type of palm tree is on the smaller side. It’s a true palm tree that belongs to the Arecaceae family, and it doesn’t get over 10 feet tall. This small tree can be identified by the long, bushy pinnate fronds that can get up to three feet long and the single stem.
Since this is smaller, it is a nice ornamental flowering tree for any subtropical landscapes or gardens. The drooping-arching fronds are showy and large, and they can almost hide the spiky trunk. They also do very well planted in containers. Although they can produce daes, the fruit usually isn’t nearly as tasty as what you’d get with larger date palms.
20. Red Sealing Wax Palm or Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)
The bright red crown on this type of palm tree makes it stand out and be instantly recognizable. Also called red palm, you’ll get a clumping growth habit that is between 10 and 20 feet tall. It has longer pinnate leaves, blackish-blue fruits, and greenish flowers. Mature trees have stunning red and green stems.
The scarlet coloring on the crown with bright red leaf stems make this type of palm tree easy to spot as you go by. It grows very well in zones 10 and 11. However, you can also grow it indoors in pots if you live in other planting zones.
21. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
Even though this plant is named the Sago Palm, you can’t consider it a true palm tree variety. Instead, this tree belongs to the Cycadaceae family. So, it may look like a palm, but it’s botanical different. The fern-like new leaves and the short trunk make it relatively easy to identify.
22. Triangle Palm (Dypsis decaryi)
The final type of palm tree on the list is the Triangle Palm, and it falls into the medium or small-size category. The long pinnate fronds are one identifier, and they can get up to eight feet long. The leaflets also point out 120° to give the fronds a unique triangular shape at the cross-section.
If you look at pictures of this type of palm tree, it’s easy to see where the name came from. The leaves will fan out from one fibrous stem to form a very distinct triangle. This is an ornamental tree that does well in tropical and subtropical gardens. It works well as a backyard tree in your landscape.
We’ve outlined 22 pretty types of palm trees in a large range of sizes that you can incorporate into your landscape, garden, or plant in containers and enjoy indoors in colder environments. They’re a great way to bring a welcome touch of the tropics to your home all year-round.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.