Top 27 Small or Dwarf Palm Trees with Identification Guide (Pictures and Name)

Small or Dwarf Palm Trees with Identification Guide (Pictures and Name)

Small palm trees are an ideal addition to a garden landscape if you live in warm, sunny climates. However, some types of small palms are also cold hardy. Dwarf palms are classified as palm trees that are under 20 ft. (6 m) tall. Most small palm trees grow from a single trunk, but some have multiple trunks. All small or dwarf palm trees are identified by their feather-like or fan-shaped fronds (leaves).

The benefit of planting dwarf palms in your front or backyard is that they don’t take up much room. Their short stature means they won’t block out sunlight. Some of the smaller palm varieties also thrive in containers. Although small palms can reach up to 20 feet (6 m), many dwarf or pygmy palms are only 5 feet (1.5 m) when mature.

Of course, palm trees – large and small—are synonymous with tropical climates. But many varieties of small palms grow well in temperate climates.

In this article, you’ll find some of the most popular species of small palms. You’ll find short palms that grow in warm climates such as Florida, and other dwarf palms that are cold hardy and can withstand freezing temperatures.

Small Palm Tree Facts

The smallest type of outdoor palms like dwarf palmetto may only reach about 3 feet (1 m) tall. The tallest types of small palms such as spindle palm may reach 20 feet (6 m). While a 20-foot palm tree seems very tall, they are small in comparison to large types of palm trees that grow up to 100 feet (30 m).

Small palm trees are mostly grown in gardens for their aesthetic appeal in the landscape. Their compact size makes them perfect small trees for planting in a front yard or if you want to turn a garden into a tropical landscape.

Most varieties of small palms have a small root ball, so you can plant them close to your house. Growing in warm conditions, many small palm trees flower and produce delicious sweet fruit.

Small Palm Tree Identification

Identifying species of small palm trees is done by the shape of their leaves (fronds) and type of trunk. Palm trees have either feather-like leaves (pinnate) or fan-like fronds (palmate). Some dwarf palms have slender, smooth trunks, and others have husks that give the trunk a spiky appearance.

There is a wide variety in the appearance of different species of palm. Some palms have slender trunks with a bushy crown of arching fronds. Other types of palms have thick, hairy trunks that are rough to touch. Some species of miniature palms have a clumping, bush-like growth with leaves that seem to grow out of the ground, without any visible trunk.

Types of Small Palm Trees

Here are the best dwarf or small palm trees to grow in your garden landscape:

Adonidia Palm (Adonidia merrillii)

Adonidia small Palm tree

The small Adonidia palm tree is an excellent plant for landscaping when space is limited

The Adonidia palm is a small palm tree with a slender, gray smooth trunk. Also called the Christmas palm, this popular Florida palm tree grows to around 6 ft. (2 m). Its elegant crown identifies the small palm with long arching fronds that spread up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide.

The common name of this small palm comes from the palm fruit that ripens in December, around Christmas time. One of the advantages of growing this palm in your yard is that it’s self-cleaning and low-maintenance. That means that Adonidia palm sheds its fronds faster than some other palm species, and that gives it a better look. The Christmas palm thrives in USDA zone 10.

Landscape uses: Plant the Adonidia palm as a specimen tree to create a focal point in a sunny, tropical garden. In a front or backyard, you can plant the palm trees close together as they have a small root ball—ideal for small gardens.

Dwarf Sugar Palm (Arenga engleri)

Dwarf Sugar Palm

The dwarf sugar palm adds a decorative touch to a small front yard or backyard

The dwarf sugar palm is a multi-stemmed small palm tree. Its clumping growth nature results in a bushy palm that resembles a large shrub. The palm grows to around 8 ft. (2.4 m) tall and is identified by green pinnate leaves that seem to grow out the ground.

Many consider the dwarf sugar palm to be one of the best landscaping palms. The miniature fern-like palm bush thrives in USDA zones 10B and 11.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: Plant a dwarf sugar palm as a specimen tree in a tropical garden. Or, you can plant the low palm bushes together to create a tropical privacy screen.

Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor)

dwarf palmetto

Dwarf palmetto can be found in many habitats and is a cold hardy small palm

The dwarf palmetto is an excellent ground-cover palm for warm climates. The short palm usually has a growth habit of up to 3 ft. (1 m) high. The tropical palm has fan-shaped leaves that can grow up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) long. The hardy dwarf palm tree thrives in hot, humid conditions but is also cold tolerant to 0°F (-18°C).

Landscape uses of this palm tree: Dwarf palmetto palms are native to Florida. You can plant them together in a backyard to create a bushy privacy screen. Or, you can grow in containers on your patio to add a tropical ambiance.

Short Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis)

Short Bottle Palm tree

The small ornamental Bottle palm tree has a thick short trunk

The bottle palm tree gets its name from its short fat trunk that looks like a pear-shaped bottle. You can identify this small palm tree by the way the stem swells as its base. Growing to only 10 ft. (3 m) tall, the miniature palm has four to six arching fronds that grow up to 12 ft. (3.5 m) long.

As the palm tree matures, its trunk becomes somewhat elongated and develops a husky exterior. Short bottle palm trees grow in Florida and southern California, where they get warm temperatures all year long. These small palms thrive in full sun.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: Bottle plants are an ideal small palm tree for compact residential gardens. In colder climates, grow bottle plants in containers and bring them indoors to protect from frost.

Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

Pygmy Date Palm

The pygmy date palm is a type of little palm tree with spiky trunk

The pygmy date palm is an ornamental dwarf tree with a short slender trunk, resembling a pineapple. Pygmy date palms are identified by the crowing mass of gracefully arching pinnate fronds. Usually, a single-stemmed palm, the tree can sometimes develop multiple trunks.

These miniature date palms thrive in full sun and grow in USDA zone 10 to 12. Flowers appear on stems that develop into clusters of small black fruits. These easy to grow dwarf palms grow up to 10 ft. (3 m) tall and have a spread of 6 to 8 ft. (1.8 – 2.4 m).

Landscape uses of this palm tree: Grow pygmy date palms to accent a Mediterranean garden landscape. The mini palm tree is also a suitable container plant to keep indoors during winter.

Pindo Palm (Butia capitata)

Pindo Palm

The small Pindo palm tree is a slow growing and cold-hardy and is excellent for compact outdoor residential area

The pindo palm is a slow-growing small tree with a single stout trunk. The attractive feature of the pindo palm is its spectacular crown of bluish-green fronds that arch and create a weeping effect. Its short fat stem has a rough appearance from the stubs of old leaves.

Also called the Jelly palm or Cocos capitata, the hardy palm tree is drought, heat, and salt tolerant.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: This attractive small palm tree is ideal for coastal landscapes, and it is cold hardy to 14°F (-10°C).

Saw Palmetto (Sereona)


Saw palmetto is a multi stem low palm with bushy appearance that can also grow in a container

Native to Florida, saw palmetto palm trees are a bushy type of palm with fanning leaves. Small saw palmetto palms grow to between 7 and 10 ft. (2 – 3 m) and tend to grow in clusters. Their silvery-green fan-shaped leaves help identify these palm trees.

The edges of its leaves are serrated, which is why this small palm tree is named the saw palmetto. Being a type of clustering palm, this palm tree has multiple stems growing from the ground.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: Plant the palmetto palms close together to create a tropical privacy screen or plant in a container for a dramatic look.

Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

Trachycarpus fortunei

The windmill palm tree is very hardy and slow growing small palm

Windmill palm trees have large fanned leaves and slender, short, hairy trunks. The slow-growing palm trees eventually grow to between 10 and 20 ft. (3 – 6 m). Their name comes from the windmill form that the splaying fronds create at the trunk’s crown. Windmill palms are hardy palms that grow in zones 8a – 11.

Windmill palm trees look very decorative planted in a front or backyard. The palms are stunning specimen plants, creating a focal point in the landscape. Or you can plant them in containers for a patio or deck area. It’s best to plant small windmill palm trees in a protected part of the garden in the shade or partial shade.

Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

Sago Palm

Sago palm is very slow-growing and can reach 20 ft. (6 m) after many decades

The sago palm is not a true type of palm tree. Instead, it’s a type of cycad plant with palm-like growth and appearance. Sago palms have a short, shaggy trunk that produces long green feather-like fronds, growing in a rosette pattern.

The cold-hardy palm-like tree can tolerate temperatures as low as 14°F (10°C). Its tolerance for cold temperatures makes the sago palm a popular small landscape palm-like tree.

Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

Needle palm is cold hardy and can grow as a miniature patio palm

The needle palm tree is a shrub-like palm with several short trunks growing from the ground. Identify the needle palm by its fan leaves that have long, needle-like spines. The needle palm is one of the most cold-hardy palm trees, surviving temperatures as low as 5°F (-15°C).

Needle palms are suitable plants for privacy or security screens. The bushy palms also grow well in containers as an ornamental low-growing tree or specimen plant. Needle plants grow to between 3 and 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall with a spread of up to 8 ft. (2.4 m).

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

parlor palm

The parlor palm can be grown indoors as a houseplant or outdoors in small spaces

Parlor palm trees grow from a single thin, slender trunk that divides into many thick branches. Parlor palms grow to between 6 and 10 ft. (2 – 3 m) tall. The parlor palm tree has pinnate foliage with long broad leaves on the stems. The palm tree grows outside in tropical conditions in USDA zones 10 and 10b.

Although parlor palms are one of the most popular types of indoor palms, they can grow in your garden under the right conditions. Plant in dappled sunlight and keep moisture levels high. Or, you can grow the palms on a patio in containers.

Spindle Palm (Hyophorbe verschaffeltii)

Hyophorbe verschaffeltii

Young Spindle palm (left) and mature tree (right)

Spindle palm trees have short slender gray trunks with a crown of curved, green pinnate leaves. These small flowering palm trees reach up to 20 ft. (6 m) tall. Spindle palms are similar to bottle palms—the difference is that the spindle palm’s trunk bulges in the center, not at the base.

Grow spindle palm trees as a specimen palm in your front or backyard. Also, spindle palms grow well in containers if you live in temperate climates.

Coontie Palm (Zamia floridana)

Zamia floridana

The low growing coontie palm looks like a type of bushy palm with rounded appearance

Coontie palms are a type of low-growing palm tree native to Florida. The Coontie palm is not a true type of palm tree but a cycad plant with palm-like growth and appearance. Coontie palms are more like bushes rather than actual palm trees. Multi-branched clusters of palm-like fronds grow from the ground. This bushy palm like tree grows up to 3 ft. (1 m) tall and has a rounded growth habit with fern-like foliage.

Coontie palms are an excellent palm-like plant for ground cover, edging, or adding greenery to shady spots.

Triangle Palm Tree (Dypsis decaryi)

Neodypsis decaryi

The small triangle palm has pinnate fronds that fan out from a single trunk

Triangle palm trees have a short trunk and long green palmate leaves growing in a triangle shape. This spectacular tree can have leaves up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) long that fan out from the thick central trunk. The triangle palm is a flowering type of palm that can bloom all year long under the right conditions.

Plant this specimen palm tree for its ornamental value or as an accent plant. The triangle palm tree is low-maintenance and survives heat and drought well.

Mediterranean Dwarf Palm or European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

Chamaerops humilis

The Mediterranean dwarf palm (European fan palm) has several trunks and is small enough to suit many gardens

The Mediterranean dwarf palm is a low-growing clumping palm with three or more trunks at its base. This bushy multi-trunk palm tree can grow to between 10 and 20 ft. (2 – 6 m) tall. A compact crown of rounded fan leaflets graces the tops of the small trunks.

Mediterranean dwarf palms are popular as landscape palms in countries that enjoy hot summers. However, the palm is also cold hardy, withstanding temperatures as cold as 10°F (-12°C). Planting the palm tree in containers outdoors can help to control its height if you want to add a Mediterranean touch to your patio or decking area.

Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata)

Thrinax radiata

Florida Thatch Palm is commonly grown as a landscaping tree in residential areas

The Florida thatch palm has a single slender stem with a canopy of palmate leaves at its top. Native to Florida, this small palm grows up to 20 ft. (6 m) high. When growing in full sun, the fanning crown of palm leaves has a compact growth in a globular shape. Florida thatch palms are popular residential landscape palms in Florida and other states in the southern U.S.

Florida thatch palm trees are cold-sensitive plants and only grow in USDA zone 10 and above. The upright, slender palm is ideal for gardens in coastal areas or where there is high wind.

Dwarf Majesty Palm (Ravenea hildebrandtii)

Ravenea hildebrandtii

Dwarf majesty palm

The dwarf majesty palm is a single-trunk palm tree that doesn’t grow taller than 8 ft. (2.4 m). The dwarf palm has dark green pinnate leaves and a slender trunk that is only 3” (7 cm) thick.

The dwarf Majesty palm tree (Ravenea hildebrandtii) is a popular ornamental palm with large wide arching leaves. The large wide arching leaves look majestic as the focal point of any subtropical ornamental garden. The bright green leaves can grow up to 3 ft. (100 cm) long and have up to 100 leaflets growing along the stem.

Majesty palm is one of the best potted palm trees to grow outdoors.

Mazari Palm (Nannorrhops ritchiana)

Nannorrhops ritchiana

Mazari palm is a small shrubby cold-hardy palm tree

The Mazari palm is a small shrubby cold-hardy palm tree. The Mazari palm has palmate (fan-like) leaves that grow on clusters of stems. The fan-shaped leaves can measure between 1 to 4 ft. (30 – 120 cm) long.

The fronds of Mazari palm are a silvery-green or silver-blue color and the long tapering leaflets give the small shrubby palm a spiky appearance.

Like other types of cold-hardy palm trees, the Mazari palm needs hot summers to grow well. However, this species is also cold-hardy down to 10 °F (−12 °C).

Cat Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum)

cascade palm

The multi-stemmed small cat palm is a great choice for small outdoor area

The cat palm tree is a clumping bushy palm plant with multiple stems growing from the ground. Growing up to 6.5 ft (2 m) in gardens, the short cat palm tree has glossy dark green leaves forming dense palm foliage. Cat palms require bright sunlight to thrive and a moist growing medium.

Due to the palm’s bushy growth habit and short stature, you can grow cat palms as a privacy hedge in tropical gardens. Cat palms also grow well in containers to add tropical greenery to a patio or decking area. These multi-stemmed palms are also popular indoor palm trees if you can grow them in bright light.

Discover many other types of palm trees to plant in your garden.

Arikury Palm (Syagrus schizophylla)

Arikury Palm (Syagrus schizophylla)

The Arikury palm is an attractive dwarf tree suitable for small sunny gardens or compact spaces

The arikury palm is a decorative dwarf palm tree with arching, bright green palmate leaves. Each palm frond has many long sword-shaped leaflets. This popular dwarf palm tree is characterized by its spreading crown, leaves with jagged edges, and bright orange-yellow flowers blooming on long, dangling stems growing 3 ft. (1 m) long.

The sun-loving arikury palm grows up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) tall, making it suitable for small gardens. Its arching fronds can measure 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m), identified by a unique feature — thin purple-black stems with hooked spines near the base.

The dwarf arikury palm thrives in full sun in USDA zones 10 to 12.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: This heat-loving palm is compact and small, making it suitable for container planting to decorate patios or decks in tropical landscapes.

Florida Cherry Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii)

Buccaneer Palm

Florida cherry palm is a small to medium sized tree which is slow growing and cold sensitive

Also called the buccaneer palm, the native Florida palm tree is identified by its slender, smooth erect stem that bulges at the base. Other features of this exotic palm tree are its ringed trunk patterns, silver-green leaflets, and long branches that gracefully arch at the top of the stem.

The Florida cherry palm tree is a medium-sized palm. However, growing it in a container limits its size, making the small palm suitable for growing in a planter. Growing in the ground, this slender palm grows 10 to 25 ft. (3 – 7.6 m) tall and is characterized by a wide, spreading canopy.

Because it is slow-growing and relatively small — the height of some specimens maxes out at 10 – 12 ft. (3 – 3.6 m), it is suitable for compact tropical gardens.

Suitable for USDA zones 10 and 11, the slow-growing buccaneer palm has excellent salt and drought tolerance.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: The Florida cherry palm is ideal for growing in coastal areas because it tolerates salty air and high humidity. It also makes a great accent plant in any landscape where you want to add height and interest.

Broadleaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

Rhapis excelsa

The broadleaf lady palm is a multi stem tree that you can grow at home in a pot

The broadleaf lady palm is a multi-stemmed palm tree with palmate leaves in fan shapes. Characteristics of this clustering bushy palm are its dark green, glossy narrow leaflets, slender, erect cane stems, and clusters of tiny yellow flowers. The attractive, easy-to-grow outdoor palm tree thrives in partial sun and shade, making it highly versatile in landscapes.

The hardy, drought-tolerant palm tree grows 6 to 15 ft. (1.8 – 4.5 m) tall and wide. Its common name comes from the finger-like narrow pointed leaflets growing on the stems. The palm resembles bamboo plants in many ways due to its reed-like stems.

The popular dwarf palm is suitable for USDA zones 9 through 11. In temperate climates, the lady palm is a popular indoor plant that grows well in pots and tolerates low light and humidity.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: Its clumping nature and dense foliage make the lady finger palm ideal in landscapes as a hedge or privacy screen. It also grows well as a container plant on patios.

Golden Cane Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

The golden cane palm (also known as areca palm) can be grown indoors and will give a tropical look to any space

The golden cane palm is a relatively low-growing bushy palm plant suitable for compact garden landscapes. The attractive shrub-like palm is characterized by dark green V-shaped fronds measuring 6 to 8 ft. (1.8 – 2.4 m) tall, lance-shaped leaflets, a multi-stemmed trunk, and small egg-shaped fruits.

Also called the areca palm or yellow bamboo palm, the bushy palm grows 20 to 35 ft. (6 – 10 m) tall, and its crown spreads 10 to 20 ft. (3 – 6 m) wide. In a landscape, the golden cane palm requires plenty of water, full sun to partial shade, and grows in well-drained soils.

Like the lady palm, the golden cane palm is a popular plant to grow in containers indoors.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: Growing in a garden landscape, the bushy golden cane palm is ideal as a natural fence, to grow along a wall, or to use as an accent plant.

Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei)

Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei)

Madagascar palm is a small palm-like tree that can give a beautiful focal point to compact spaces

The Madagascar palm is a small deciduous tree unrelated to true palm trees. The palm-like tree is identified by its cigar-shaped spiny trunk, strap-shaped glossy green leaves, banana-shaped seed pods, and large saucer-shaped white flowers. As the plant matures, the base becomes swollen and fat.

The Madagascar palm tree is ideal for compact gardens due to its dwarf growth habit. The Madagascar palm grows 10 to 20 ft. (3 – 6 m) tall and up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide. Its large leaves grow 12” (30 cm) long, and its curled seed pods are 8” (20 cm) long. After the plant reaches 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall, it starts to branch at the top.

Landscape uses of this palm tree: The Madagascar palm looks spectacular as a specimen tree or growing in containers outdoors on a patio.

Loulu Palm Trees (Pritchardia spp.)

Loulu palm trees are native to Hawaii and vary in size from tall trees that can reach 50 ft. (15 m) tall to small or dwarf trees that reach up to 16 ft. (5 m) tall. They have a single trunk and are identified by large fan fronds on stalks measuring 2 to 10 ft. (0.6 – 3 m) long. Some species of Pritchardia have graceful arching branches with pleated round fronds. However, other varieties have drooping or weeping branches.

The fruits of Loulu palms are oval or spherical and grow in large clusters under the branches at the tree’s crown. The fruits can measure 0.75” to 2” (2 – 5 cm), depending on the species of the palm tree.

Some small species of Loulu palm trees include:

Pritchardia remota— A small palm tree endemic to the Hawaiian island Nihoa that typically reaches 13–16 ft. (4–5 m) tall. It has a slim ringed trunk, dense crown with fan-shaped leaves with drooping tips, and a small dark brown or black fruit.

Pritchardia remota

Pritchardia remota

Pritchardia munroi—A short Hawaiian palm growing 16 ft. (5 m) tall. It has drooping fan fronds that cover the entire tree, almost hiding the broad trunk from sight. It is native to dry and moist forests. Native to the Hawaiian islands Molokai and Maui.

Pritchardia munroi

Pritchardia munroi

Pritchardia glabrata—This slow-growing dwarf Hawaiian palm grows 6.5 to 16 ft. (2 – 5 m) tall. It has an open crown with fan leaves, each measuring about 2 ft. (0.6 m) long. Native to Lanai and West Maui.

Pritchardia glabrata

Pritchardia glabrata

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