Types of Palm Trees in Florida (With Pictures and Names)

types of palm trees in florida

Tropical palm trees are one of the identifying features of the Florida skyline. Several types of palm trees are native to Florida and grow throughout the state. Many Florida palm trees are tall and majestic and grow near beaches, along roads and in parks. There are also some small and dwarf palm trees native to Florida that are ideal for residential garden landscapes.

Because of the diverse growing zones in Florida, it’s vital to identify the right kind of palm tree for your area. Some Florida palm trees are cold hardy and can withstand some light frost. However, other palms native to the “Sunshine State” only grow in southern Florida, where it’s warm and humid throughout the year.

This article is a guide to identifying the most common palm trees that grow in Florida. Pictures of Florida palm trees along with descriptions of the leaves, trunks, and growth habits will help with palm tree identification.

Growing Zones in Florida

Florida is divided into USDA growing zones 8 – 10, with the Florida Keys being in zone 11.

The northern parts of Florida are in zone 8a, where temperatures can drop as low as 15°F (-9°C) in winter. So, you need to find cold-hardy Florida palms to grow in the northern part of the state.

Miami is in zone 10, where minimum temperatures are between 30°F (-1°C) and 40°F (4°C). Palms need to survive short bouts of cold temperatures but thrive in warm summers.

Palms for Growing in Florida

Florida has some of the best conditions for growing palm trees. Palms tend to thrive growing in sandy soil where the climate is hot and wet in summer and cool and dry in winter.

In northern Florida, temperatures in winters can drop below freezing, and there can be some frost on the ground. Palms native to Florida, such as Pindo palm, dwarf palmetto, Sabal palmetto, and the needle palm all grow well in zones 8 through 11 and are cold hardy.

Cold hardy palms also grow in the southern part of Florida around the Miami area. But native palms such as the royal palm tree and silver palm, which are cold sensitive, will only grow in south Florida.

Florida Palm Tree Facts

Twelve species of palm trees are native to Florida. Some of the most common native Florida palms are cabbage palms, needle palms, royal palms, and silver palms. However, you’ll also see many imported palms growing in different areas of Florida.

Palms belong to the family Arecaceae and are identified by their long thick stems and crown of arching fronds (branches). Some of the most towering Florida palms can grow up to 100 ft. (30 m) tall. The smaller or dwarf native Florida palms can be as short as 20 ft. (6 m)—relatively small for a palm tree.

Types of Palm Trees in Florida (With Pictures)

Let’s look in more detail at the identifying features of many palms commonly grown in Florida. In this list, you’ll find native Florida palm trees and popular palms that have been imported from other countries.

Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor)

dwarf palmetto

Dwarf palmetto is miniature palm tree that is cold hardy

Dwarf palmetto palm has large fan-shaped leaves, short fat trunk, and smooth branches. As its name suggests, this is a small species of palm, and it doesn’t usually grow taller than 3 ft. (1 m). Being a cold-hardy Florida palm, the dwarf palmetto can survive temperatures as low as 0°F (-18°C).

This dwarf palm is suitable for residential garden landscapes in zones 7 through 10.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Green fronds identify the dwarf palmetto in the shape of a fan growing on a short, smooth trunk.

Needle Palm (Rahpidophyllum hystrix)

Rahpidophyllum hystrix

The cold hardy needle palm looks like a palm bush and is a Florida native palm

The needle palm is more of a short or mini bushy palm rather than a tall, majestic tree. You can identify the palm by its thick trunk and fronds growing in a fan shape that creates a rounded crown on the palm. The needle palm, native to Florida, is one of the hardiest palms in the Sunshine State. Hardy to 5°F (-15°C), it thrives in zones 6 through 10.

This small hardy palm tree grows between 3 and 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Identify the short palm by its clumping growth of fan-like leaves, stout trunk, and rounded growth.

Scrub Palmetto (Sabal etonia)

scrub palmetto

Scrub palmetto is a short palm native to Florida and is cold hardy

Identifying features of the scrub palmetto are its fan leaves growing at the top of a solitary thin stem. This short palm tree is only native to Florida. Although the trunk can grow up to 6.6 ft. (2 m) tall, it is often entirely below ground. The spiky frond palm leaves are suitable for ground cover.

A cold-hardy Florida palm tree grows in USDA zones 8a through 11 and can survive temperatures as low as 10°F (-12°C).

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The scrub palmetto is identified by thin yellowish-green blades growing in the shape of a fan with a slightly curved growth.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

Serenoa repens

The small saw palmetto tree is suitable for limited spaces

The saw palmetto Florida palm’s identifying features are its fan-like leaves, sharp spiky branches, and yellowish-white flowers. This is a relatively cold-hardy plant that grows throughout Florida and reaches heights of between 7 and 10 ft. (2 – 3 m). Palm fruit consists of big dark red drupes. This Florida palm is cold hardy to 20°F (6°C) in zones 9a through 11.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Identify the saw palmetto palm tree by a crooked stem, large leaves with a fan-like appearance, and sharp branches.

Sylvester Palm (Phoenix sylvestris)

Sylvester Palm

Sylvester palm is a cold hardy and slow growing tree

The Sylvester palm—or silver date palm—is widespread in Florida landscapes, although it’s not native to the state. The medium-sized palm tree has a fat trunk that resembles a pineapple’s skin. The palm ranges in size from 13 ft. to 50 ft. (4 – 15 m) and has a leafy crown that’s 32 ft. (10 m) broad and the same tall. Sylvester palms are drought-tolerant, slow-growing, and very cold-hardy.

Sylvester palms grow in all parts of Florida in zones 8b through 11

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The Sylvester palm is identified by sharp, stiff, pointed leaves, a rough fibrous trunk, and a vast bushy palm crown.

Keys thatch palm (Leucothrinax morrisii)

Keys thatch palm

The Keys thatch palm is native to the Florida Keys and can vary in size depending on growing conditions

The key thatch palm (also named brittle thatch palm) has fan-shaped (palmate) leaves growing on a single long stem. The leaves have long leaflets up to 2.5 ft. (0.7 m) long and are a pale yellowish-green or bluish-green color. Depending on the growing conditions, this Florida palm can be small-growing to only 3 ft. tall (1 m), or a tall, elegant palm tree growing over 36 ft. (11 m) tall.

The keys thatch palm is tolerant of wind and some frost and is cold-hardy to 30°F (-1°C), thriving in zone 9b.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The keys thatch palm is identified by its sizeable spiky foliage growing on multiple branches, a fibrous trunk, and small white fruits.

Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata)

Thrinax radiata

Florida Thatch Palm is grown in South Florida and is identified by its skinny trunk

The Florida thatch palm has single slender trunk and crown of palmate leaves. These cold-sensitive palms grow well in coastal regions and are excellent for garden landscapes or growing in containers. The slow-growing southern palms grow up to 20 ft. (6 m) tall. Grows in USDA zones 10 through 11, so suitable for growing in south Florida.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The Florida thatch palm tree is a species of skinny palm tree with between 10 and 20 green palmate leaves forming a canopy.

Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)

Bismarck palm

The small Bismarck palm tree has beautiful silvery gray foliage and is cold sensitive

The Bismarck palm is not native to Florida, but it’s one of the most sought-after palms in the southern states. The spectacular palm is easily recognizable by its short, fat, fibrous trunk and showy display of huge silvery-gray fronds. This is a type of small palm tree that grows up to 20 ft. (6 m) tall. The palm leaves can grow up to 10 ft. (3 m) broad and the rounded crown can be over 22 ft. (7 m) wide.

This cold-sensitive plant only grows in the south of Florida in zone 11.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The Bismarck palm is identified by its massive silvery crown of palm leaves and a fat, rough trunk.

Florida Silver Palm (Coccothrinax argentata)

Florida silver palm

The native Florida silver palm is a type of slow growing palm tree

The Florida silver palm’s identifying features are its slender, smooth trunk, dark blue-green leaves with a silver underside, and globose purple palm fruits. This small native Florida palm grows to between 6.5 and 20 ft. (2 – 6 m).

The Florida silver palm is a type of small palm tree that grows in southern Florida in zones 10b through 11.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: A single smooth upward-growing trunk identifies the Florida silver palm tree. Also, look for palmate compound silvery-gray leaves, giving the palm crown a globular appearance.

Paurotis Palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii)

Paurotis palm

Paurotis palm is a small to medium sized tree with fanning fronds

The fanning leaves of the Paurotis palm make this species of Florida palm easy to identify. Its slender trunk with fibrous growth identifies the palm. With its thin trunk and fanning leaves, the paurotis palm has a skimpy look. This Florida palm tree grows in zones 9 through 11.

The palm tree is also called the everglades palm, Madeira palm, and Cubas palm. It’s a small to moderately tall species of palm tree growing between 16 and 23 ft. (5 – 7 m).

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The paurotis palm is identified by its light green-colored fronds that fan out, giving the slender palm a spiky appearance.

Alexander Palm Tree (Ptychosperma elegans)

Alexander Palm Tree

Alexander palm is medium-sized tree suitable to grow in south Florida

The Alexander palm is a small to medium sized palm tree popular in Florida’s garden landscapes where it thrives in warm tropical conditions. Multi-stemmed species of this palm have smooth, thin stems that are self-cleaning. The pinnately compound fronds can grow up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) and appear at the end of the long straight stem. Depending on where it grows, the medium-sized Alexander palm tree grows to between 20 and 40 ft. (6 – 12 m).

Ideal for growing in zone 11, the palm is hardy to 40°F (4.5°C). The palm tree also has names such as elegant palm, Solitaire palm, and cabbage palm—although not to be confused with the tall Sabal palmetto palm tree.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The Alexander palm tree is identified by a smooth, slender gray stem that bulges at the base. Look for pinnate leaves that have an arching growth. Bunches of red palm fruits also help identify the Alexander palm tree.

Buccaneer Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii)

Buccaneer Palm

Buccaneer palm is medium sized tree which is slow growing and cold sensitive

The buccaneer palm also goes by the name Florida cherry palm. The medium-sized Florida palm can grow up to 26 ft. (8 m) tall and is identified by its long arching fronds and swollen smooth trunk with ringed patterns. The long branches of this slow-growing graceful palm spread out in a flat pattern like a fan. The cold-sensitive palm grows well in zones 10a through 11.

If you like the look of this palm, you can also grow it in a container and move it indoors during the winter.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The buccaneer palm is identified by its slightly bulging trunk with ring markings and long branches up to 10 ft. (3 m) in length that arch out creating a wide canopy.

Related: Indoor Palm Plants: Types and Care

Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcata)

foxtail palm

Foxtail palm is a medium sized tree suitable to grow in Southern Florida

The foxtail palm is native to Australia, but a popular species of palm in Florida. The medium-sized palm tree is identified by its arching fronds growing from the top of the silvery-white trunk. The palm gets its name from its branch growth that resembles a fox’s tail. The foxtail palm is a fast-growing palm tree similar to the massive royal palm.

Thriving in zones 10b and 11, the popular Florida palm will only grow in the southern areas of the state. The medium-sized palm grows up to 30 ft. tall (9 m).

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Identify the foxtail palm by its bushy arching fronds, branchless smooth columnar trunk that is white with ringed patterns.

Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)

Queen Palm

The Queen palm is a popular ornamental fast growing tree

The Queen palm is ideal for ornamental gardens in zones 9 through 11. The medium-sized palm tree quickly reaches heights of up to 50 ft. (15 m). The long, pinnate leaves have hundreds of leaflets that are about 1.5 ft. (50 cm) in length, giving the palm’s crown a bushy appearance.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The queen palm is identified by its single smooth trunk, glossy bright green leaves, drooping canopy, and golden orange palm dates.

Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis)

Chinese Fan Palm

The Chinese fan palm is a cold hardy decorative tree

The Chinese fan palm is a beautiful tall palm tree that is ideal for ornamental gardens in Florida. These hardy palms thrive in all parts of Florida. Their identifying feature is the drooping fan leaves that create a fountain-like look. The tall, straight trunks and spreading crown grow up 50 ft. (15 m) tall.

Chinese fan palms are cold hardy to 20°F (-12°C) and are suitable for zones 9 through 11.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Identify the Chinese fan palm by its fan-shaped leaves with an arching growth habit that creates a bushy, drooping crown.

Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

Canary Island Date Palm

Canary Island date palm is a tall and cold hardy tree

The Canary Island date palm is a popular sun-loving palm tree for the south coast. The tall palm eventually grows up to 66 ft. (20 m) high—making it too tall for most residential Florida garden landscapes.

The fat palm tree has a rough straight bronze-colored trunk that has a large bulge at its crownshaft. The pinnate arching leaves grow from a central spot at the top of the long trunk. Suitable for growing in zones 8a through 11 and cold hardy to 10°F (-12°C).

Florida Palm Tree Identification: The Canary Island date palm is identified by its tall upright trunk, with a crown of stiff, sharp leaves, and clusters of palm fruits—bunches of orange-yellow dates.

Ribbon Fan Palm (Livistona decora)

Ribbon Fan Palm

The ribbon fan palm is slow growing and commonly found in south and central Florida

The ribbon fan palm is native to Australia but popular in southern and central parts of Florida. The palm tree is identified by its single, upright straight trunk that has a smooth finish. This palm gets its name from the fan-shaped leaves that split into long drooping ribbons. The ribbon fan palm is a slow-growing palm that eventually reaches 60 ft. (18 m).

The ribbon fan plant is suitable for growing in Florida USDA zones 9 through 11.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Identify the ribbon fan plant by the graceful ribbon-like fronds that create an umbrella type of bushy palm crown.

Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto)

Cabbage Palm

Cabbage palm is a tall cold hardy tree native to Florida

The cabbage palm (sabal palmetto) is a tall palm native to Florida and is also the state tree of Florida. This palm tree has bronze and gray-colored fibrous trunk, fan-shaped leaves, and rounded crown on the top of a long single trunk. An identifying feature of this Florida palm is the brown-colored dead palm leaves hanging at the base of the crown.

The cabbage palmetto palm grows up to 65 ft. (20 m) and grows in zones 8 through 11. Hot, humid summers ensure the ‘Floridian’ palm survives winter temperatures down to 9°F (-12°C).

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Identify Florida’s state palm with the trunk that is smooth and gray at its base, before becoming bronze and rough due to old leaves petioles.

Florida Royal Palm (Roystonea regia)

Florida Royal Palm

The tall Florida royal palm can reach up to 66–98 ft. (20–30 m)

The Florida royal palm is a tall palm tree native to southern Florida and is commonly seen along roads and in parks. The tree is identified by its thick, bulging smooth trunk that is a whitish-gray color. Another identifying feature is the smooth green part of the stem called the crownshaft. The pinnate palm leaves grow up to 13 ft. (4 m) long.

The royal palms are among some of the tallest palm trees that grow in the south of Florida. The regal-looking palms grow in zones 10a through 11 and are cold hardy at 26°F (-3°C).

Florida Palm Tree Identification: To identify the Florida royal palm, look for the green crownshaft near the arching leaves. Also, the thick, fat, tall, straight trunk is a grayish color with rings on it.

Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)

coconut palm tree

Coconut palms are popular trees in south Florida and thrive in warm tropical conditions

Coconut palms are a popular species of palm tree in Florida that has long curving smooth stem growing up to 100 ft. (30 m) tall. The pinnate leaves grow at the very top of the palm tree and create an arching crown. Of course, another identifying feature of the palm genus Cocos is the fact the fruit is coconuts, not juicy dates.

These cold-sensitive palms grow better in the southern part of Florida in zones 10a and 10b.

Florida Palm Tree Identification: Identify coconut palms by their smooth gray trunk that has a large bulge at its base. The pinnate leaves can grow up to 20 ft. (6 m) long.

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