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Publication #ENH1094

Palms for North Florida1

Edwin R. Duke and Gary W. Knox2

Palm (päm) n. Any of various chiefly tropical evergreen trees, shrubs or woody vines of the family Palmae (Arecaceae), having unbranched trunks with a crown of pinnate or palmate leaves having conspicuous parallel venation. [ME<OE<OFr. Palme, both < Latin palma, palm of the hand.] American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd ed.

Palms are a prominent part of the Florida landscape. While many of the palms used in the southern parts of the state are not cold hardy, there is still a good selection of palm species that will grow in more northern regions (Figure 1).

Figure 1. 

Chinese Fam Palm, Livistona chinensis is one of many cold hardy palms. Note spines on the leaf petiole.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Predicting Cold Hardiness in Palms

Palms suitable for northern Florida must be able to withstand at least intermittent periods of below-freezing weather. It is difficult to make generalizations about the cold hardiness of palms. Different growers report different experiences with the same species of palm after a cold spell. The reasons for this are numerous – the nature of the cold spell itself, microclimate differences surrounding the palm, and the palms themselves.

A cold spell can come on slowly or quickly. It is generally thought that a gradual cooling allows plants to acclimate or "harden off." The length of time and depth of hard freeze, wind speed, and relative humidity can also influence how destructive a cold spell might be.

Microclimates surrounding a particular plant can influence whether or not a palm will survive a particular cold spell. A plant sheltered by a building or other plants is more likely to survive than one that is exposed. The elevation of a location can also be a factor in a plant's survival-cold air tends to accumulate in low-lying areas.

Finally, how successfully a palm can withstand cold is determined by the palm itself. Its age, height, hereditary differences selected out over time by environmental influences in its native habitat, and the overall health of the palm all have an effect on a plant's survival of many environmental conditions, including cold.

It would seem simple to predict a palm's cold hardiness by looking at a few variables regarding the palm's native habitat-is the palm native to the cooler northern or southern latitudes rather than nearer the equator? Is the palm native to higher altitudes? -however, some tropical species have been found to be somewhat hardy.

Perhaps the best indicator of the potential cold hardiness of a palm is its ability to withstand drought. Many of the more cold tolerant palms come from regions with distinct wet and dry seasons. Freezing stress for any plant is in many ways similar to drought stress, at both the whole-plant and the cellular level-freezing temperatures prevent or reduce the uptake and translocation of water. Tropical or subtropical palms that are adapted to survive the stress of low water conditions (no matter what conditions – cold or drought – are causing it) will have a better chance of surviving cold temperatures. Palms that grow in semi-arid areas, savannas, exposed sandy coastal zones, and on exposed well-drained rocky outcrops are prime candidates for testing in colder climates.

Growing Conditions for Palms

In many ways, the growing conditions of Florida are ideal for growing palms. Our hot, wet summers and cool, dry winters (relatively speaking) are ideal for the growth of most (but not all) species of palms. In addition, much of Florida is covered with sandy soils underlain by limestone, both of which are conducive to the growth of many palms. The heavier, clay soils found in limited regions of northwest Florida may be made more suitable for the growth of desert-adapted palms by the addition of sand or perlite to 'lighten" the soil. In addition, planting the palm in a raised berm may improve the palm's chance of survival.

Maintenance of Palms

Palms are not particularly high maintenance plants, but their care must not be neglected. In Florida, the season for rapid growth coincides with the arrival of high temperatures (80°F or more). It is during that time that maintenance is most important.

Mineral Nutrition

Palms suffer quickly and conspicuously from improper mineral nutrition. The problems may arise from either insufficient or improper fertilization.

Potassium (K) deficiency is perhaps the most widespread and serious nutritional problem of palms. Florida's sandy soils have a poor ability to retain nutrients. This factor combined with heavy rainfall make Florida's soil low in potassium content.

Symptoms of potassium deficiency vary among palm species but typically begin with translucent yellow or orange "freckles" on the leaflets of the oldest leaves. As the symptoms progress, the freckles may be accompanied by necrotic (dead tissue) lesions. Further progression of the deficiency results in marginal necrosis of the leaflets. The leaflets or entire fronds may become withered or frizzled in appearance.

The first response of most gardeners to partial necrosis of leaves is to prune off the "offending" frond. Rather than helping, this actually worsens the problem by preventing the palm from translocating the remaining potassium to the plant's growing point.

Magnesium (Mg) deficiency is also quite common, especially on date palm (Phoenix species). Typical symptoms include a broad band of chlorotic (yellow) tissue along the margin of the older leaves. The center of the leaf remains green. As with potassium deficiency, leaves exhibiting magnesium deficiency should not be removed until they are dead in order to allow the remaining magnesium to be moved to the newer leaves.

Prevention is the key to both potassium and magnesium deficiency. Once symptoms appear, they cannot be reversed. Some "palm special" fertilizers are specially formulated to contain elevated (and balanced) levels of potassium and magnesium, as well as nitrogen, in a controlled-release form.

Iron (Fe) deficiency sometimes occurs in palms in the growing season following a cold winter or in palms growing in poorly aerated soils. Cold temperatures may induce nutrient deficiency by slowing or preventing nutrient uptake. Waterlogged soil effectively suffocates the roots, also preventing nutrient uptake. Iron deficiency appears first on the newest leaves and is characterized by yellowing between leaf veins.

Iron deficiency symptoms may be alleviated by foliar application of iron chelate. This is especially effective for symptoms caused by transient cold spells. However, long term correction of symptoms due to poor soil conditions is best achieved by changing soil conditions.

For more detailed information on palm nutrition, refer to IFAS publications, Nutrient Deficiencies of Landscape and Field-Grown Palms in Florida, and Fertilization of Field-growna and Landscape Palms in Floridab.

Irrigation

Most palms tolerate some drought. However, it is a good idea to keep palms well-watered during the active growing period. Keep in mind that "well-watered" does not mean waterlogged. Damage of roots due to waterlogging may induce certain nutrient deficiencies and allow infection by pathogenic fungi or bacteria.

The cooler winter months coincide with periods of slower growth. During this time, most palms, but especially those from desert areas, do best with reduced irrigation.

Insects and Diseases

As a group, palms are fairly resistant to pests and diseases. This does not mean, however, that they are pest-free. Certain insects and diseases have proven especially devastating for palms.

Palms are not immune to common pests such as caterpillars, aphids, scales, and spider mites. These pests may be controlled by conventional means.

A not-so-common problem for many palms is the palmetto weevil (Rhynchophorus cruentatus). This weevil is attracted to stressed palms, especially during or after transplanting. The adult female deposits her eggs near the crown of the plant, and the resulting larvae tunnel through the tender meristem tissue. Death of the meristem results in the death of the entire palm.

Prevention by reducing stress to the palm is the best method to control the palmetto weevil. The practice of removing the majority of the fronds and roots of a palm during transplanting is one method to reduce transplant stress. For more information, refer to Palmetto Weevil, 'Rhynchophorus cruentatus'c. Several fungal diseases have proven especially damaging to certain palms. Ganoderma, Fusarium, Phytophthora, and Thielaviopsis are fungi that cause diseases that may result in the death of affected palms see IFAS publications Ganoderma Butt Rot of Palmsd; Fusarium Wilt of Canary Island Date Palme; Thielaviopsis Trunk Rot of Palmf; and Bud Rots of Palmg. Additional information on diseases may be found in Leaf Spots and Leaf Blights of Palmh.

A number of conditions resembling pest damage may be caused by environmental factors. For more information, refer to IFAS publication Physiological Disorders of Landscape Palmsi.

Pruning

Like all plants, palms benefit from regular pruning. Ideally, pruning of palms should be limited to removing dead fronds. Practically, this is not always acceptable. When fronds with living tissue need to be pruned, remove only the lower fronds extending out less than 90 degrees from the trunk.

New growth should never be pruned. The natural growth habit of palms does not allow them to be maintained at a constant height.

Treating Cold Damaged Palms

Even with the best of care, palms growing in northern Florida are going to experience temperatures below those that they can tolerate without damage.

Effects of Cold Temperatures

Cold weather affects palms in several ways. Growth of the apical bud is reduced, and growth of roots is slowed. This reduced activity often weakens the palm to the point that diseases may become active and kill the palm.

Severe cold damage caused by frost or below-freezing temperatures may destroy plant tissues. Due to the nature of the water-conducting tissue in palms, the destruction of stem tissue may severely reduce water conduction for years. As warmer weather returns, plant pathogens, whether primary or secondary, may attack weakened plants through damaged tissue.

After a Freeze

After a palm experiences damaging temperatures, it is important to protect the growing point until active growth resumes.

Carefully inspect the damaged fronds before pruning. Leaves should not be removed if they still contain viable green tissue. The green portions of leaves are important for adequate production of sugars from photosynthesis. Allowing the leaves to die naturally allows the nutrients remaining in the leaf to be translocated to other areas where they are needed.

Immediately after pruning away dead tissue, spray the palm with a fungicide; copper-containing fungicides often are recommended. This will reduce the level of potentially pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Repeat the fungicide spray as recommended by the fungicide label or about 10 days after the first treatment. Make sure that these sprays cover the damaged tissue and the bud thoroughly. If the fungicide contains copper, do not repeat the sprays more than twice so as to avoid possible copper toxicity. If the soil has frozen, a soil drench of a combination of a broad-spectrum and a water mold-specific fungicide may suppress root diseases.

Freeze damage to the palm's vascular tissue in the trunk may limit the ability of the plant to supply water to the canopy. Unlike typical trees, palms do not have the ability to regenerate vascular tissue within the trunk. A sudden collapse of some (or all) of the leaves during the first periods of high temperatures in the spring or summer following a damaging winter freeze may indicate this type of trunk damage. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done at this point. Loss of the palm is likely inevitable.

Palm Selection

An important factor to consider when selecting a palm for a particular area is the average minimum temperature that can be expected. The US Department of Agriculture has used historical climatic data to divide the country into climate zones. Each zone represents a 10°F range. Most of northern Florida can be placed in one of two USDA climate zones. Extreme northern parts of the state are placed in the lower half of USDA zone 8 (10° – 19°F), meaning that the average minimum temperature that may be expected is 15°F. Coastal regions of the northern Florida are typically in the upper half of zone 9 (20° – 29°F), meaning that the average minimum temperature that may be expected is 20°F. Of course these are only average lows. Single digit lows have been recorded several times in the last 100 years.

The table in this publication includes palms exhibiting some degree of cold hardiness. In addition to cold hardiness, intended use and characteristics of the site should be used as selection criteria. Careful study of the list of palms and their characteristics will allow selection of the right palm for the landscape situation.

Availability

Palms are increasingly appreciated by consumers. Cold hardy palms are in great demand and the nursery industry is responding with additional production. Currently, palms that are most widely available are in the genera Butia (pindo palm), Chamaedorea (parlor palm), Livistona (fan palm), Phoenix (date palm), Rhapidophyllum (needle palm), Rhapis (lady palm), Sabal (palmetto), Serenoa (saw palmetto), Syagrus (queen palm), Trachycarpus (windmill palm), and Washingtonia (washington palm; Figure 2). Refer to Table 1 for specific species and their cold hardiness information. Other cold hardy palms may be found at better garden centers and specialty nurseries.

Figure 2. 

Washingtonia filifera leaves - note filaments hanging from leaf margins.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Endnotes

a Nutrient Deficiencies of Landscape and Field-Grown Palms in Florida, ILN# ENH1018 / DLN# EP273 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP273)

b Fertilization of Field-grown and Landscape Palms in Florida, ILN# ENH1009 / DLN# EP261 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP261)

c Palmetto Weevil, Rhynchophorus cruentatus, ILN# EENY013 / DLN# IN139 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN139)

d Ganoderma Butt Rot of Palms, ILN# PP54 / DLN# PP100 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PP100)

e Fusarium Wilt of Canary Island Date Palm, ILN# PP215 / DLN# PP139 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PP139)

f Thielaviopsis Trunk Rot of Palm, ILN# PP219 / DLN# PP143 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PP143)

g Bud Rots of Palm, ILN# PP220 / DLN# PP144 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PP144)

h Leaf Spots and Leaf Blights of Palm, ILN# PP218 / DLN# PP142 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PP142)

i Physiological Disorders of Landscape Palms, ILN# ENH1011 / DLN# EP263 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP263)

References

Fox, A.M., D.R. Gordon, J.A. Dusky, L. Tyson, and R.K. Stocker. 2005. IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/ (Accessed 28 August 2007).

Gilman, E.F. 2006. Palms in the Landscape. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/palms.shtml (Accessed 28 August 2007).

McClendon, T., W. Roberds and J. LeVert. 2007. Hardy Palms for the Southeast. Southeastern Palm Society, Inc., Apison, TN. 140 pp.

Southeastern Palm Society. 2007. Hardy Palms: A Quick Reference. http://www.sepalms.org/index.php?/page/home.html/_/cold-hardy-palms (Accessed 24 January 2012).

University of Florida/IFAS Fort Lauderdale REC faculty and staff. 2007. Palm Production & Maintenance. http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/palm_prod/palm_production.shtml (Accessed 28 August 2007).

Tables

Table 1. 

Palms for northern Florida and their associated characteristics3.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Origin

Native Habitat

Hardiness Zone

Typical Height

Growth Rate

Habit

Light

Salt Tolerance

Leaf Type

Foliage Color

Comments

Acoelorrhaphe wrightii

Paurotis palm, Everglades palm

Southern Florida, Caribbean region

Moist, swamp-like regions

9a – 11

23°F

20'

Slow to moderate

Clustering

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Green, silvery-green below

Native to the Florida Everglades. Adaptable to drier soils. Reported to tolerate 19°F.

Arenga engleri

Dwarf sugar palm

Taiwan, Ryukyu Islands

Open forests

9a – 11

23°F

6 – 8'

Slow to moderate

Clustering

Partial shade to full sun

Low

Pinnate

Dark green above, silvery below

Fiber-covered stems. Fruit contain irritating calcium oxylate crystals.

Brahea armata

Blue hesper palm

Mexico, southern California

Arid, desert regions

8a – 10

14°F

30 – 40'; 4 – 8 in FL

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Costa-palmate

Blue-green, waxy

Does not like high humidity. Requires well-drained soil.

Butia capitata

Pindo palm, jelly palm

Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay

Coastal grassland plains

8 – 10

14°F

15'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Pinnate

Blue-green

Hardiest of the feather-leaved palms. Widely cultivated. Exhibits variability from plant to plant. Var. strictior has fronds with less curve. Hybridizes with members of the genus Syagrus.

Butia eriospatha

Wooly jelly palm

Southern Brazil

Hillsides to 4000'

8 – 10

15°F

15 – 20'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Pinnate

Blue-green to blue-gray

Leaf bases covered with brown hair. Faster growing than B. capitata.

Butia yatay

Yatay palm

South America

Dry savannas

8 – 10

15°F

35'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Pinnate

Gray-green

Similar to B. capitata, but having more widely spreading leaves.

Butia X Jubaea hybrid

No common name

Occurs only in cultivation

Not applicable

8a – 10

13°F

40' +

Moderate

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Pinnate

Bluish- green

Faster growing and more cold hardy than either parent. Massive trunk with retained leaf bases.

Butia X Syagrus hybrid

X Butiagrus nabonnandii

Mule palm

Occasionally produced in the wild in South America

Dry savannas

8b – 10

19°F

40' +

Moderate

Solitary

Full sun

Unknown – likely moderate

Pinnate

Bluish-green

Resembles Butia more than Syagrus – but with finer, less stiff foliage. Faster growing than Butia.

Chamaedorea elegans

Parlor palm

Mexico and Central America

Rainforest understory

9a – 11

24°F

3 – 5'

Slow

Solitary

Shade to partial shade

Low

Pinnate

Green

Popular houseplant since Victorian times. Separate male and female plants. Most effective when several planted together.

Chamaedorea microspadix

Hardy bamboo palm

Mexico

Open forests

8b – 11

18°F

8'

Moderate

Clustering

Shade to partial shade

Low

Pinnate

Dull green

Resembles C. seifrizii and C. erumpens, popular interior palms.

Chamaedorea radicalis

Radicalis palm

Mexico

High elevation rainforests

8b – 11

19°F

5'

Slow to moderate

Solitary

Shade to partial shade

Low

Pinnate

Dark green

Often trunkless, but trunked forms exist. Separate male and female plants.

Chamaerops humilis

European fan palm

Mediterran-ean Region

Arid coastal zones to 3000' in elevation

8 – 9

16°F

10'

Slow

Clustering

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate - may be variable

Palmate

Green, blue-green and silvery forms

Great variability from one plant to another. Var. cerifera is blue-green in color and is not as cold hardy as the green form.

Corypha umbraculifera

Talipot palm

Southern India and Sri Lanka

Rainforest

9a – 11

20°F

80'

Slow when young

Solitary

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Costa-palmate

Dull green

Flowers after 60 – 80 years and then dies. Massive leaves 12 – 18' in diameter when mature. Dies after flowering

Dypsis baronii

Sugar cane palm

Madagascar

Mountain regions around 1600'

9a – 11

24°F

15'

Slow to moderate

Solitary

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Pinnate

Green

Heat and drought tolerant, but does best with adequate water.

Dypsis decipiens

Manambe palm

Madagascar

Dry highlands to 6700 feet

9a – 11

21°F

15'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Low

Pinnate

Blue-green

One of the few cold-tolerant palms with a crown shaft.

Guihaia argyrata

Dainty lady palm

Vietnam

Open forests on limestone hills

9a – 11

22°F

4'

Slow

Clustering

Shade to partial shade

Low

Palmate

Green above, silvery white below

First placed in the genus Trachycarpus. Grows best at higher pH.

Howea forsteriana

Kentia palm

Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia

 

9a – 11

24°F

6 – 14'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade

Moderate

Pinnate

Dark green above, lighter below

Excellent container plant.

Jubaea chilensis

Chilean wine palm

Chile

Desert, coastal valleys

8b – 10a

14°F

50-80'

Very slow

Solitary

Full sun

Low

Pinnate

Dull green above, gray below

Requires well drained soil. Has the thickest trunk of any palm – up to 6 feet in diameter.

Livistona australis

Australian fan palm

Australia

Rainforest understory

9a – 11

22°F

40'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Deep, glossy green

Secondmost cold hardy Livistona after L. chinensis.

Livistona chinensis

Chinese fan palm

China, southern Japan

Open forests

8b – 11

18°F

25'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Olive Green

Often defoliated by hard freezes, but re-grows a new canopy in spring. Rarely forms trunk in northern regions. Armed petiole

Livistona decipiens

Ribbon fan palm

Australia

River banks and coastal areas

9a – 11

23°F

30'

Slow to moderate

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Deep green above, waxy gray below

The leaves are deeply divided and the long segments hang downward in a curtain-like manner.

Nannorrhops ritchiana

Mazari palm

Afghanistan, Pakistan to Arabia

Desert mountain regions

7b – 11

7°F

10'

Slow

Clustering

Full sun

Moderate

Costa-palmate

Blue-green

Requires well-drained soil. After flowering and fruiting, a stem will eventually die back, but not before branching just below the crown.

Phoenix canariensis

Canary Island date palm

Canary Islands

Desert regions, 600 – 1900'

8b – 11

19°F

40'

Very slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Pinnate

Dull deep green

Form impressive, large specimens. Poorly drained sites should be avoided.

Phoenix dactylifera

Date palm

North Africa – exact origin unknown

Desert regions

8b – 11

19°F

40 - 50'

Slow

Slowly clustering

Full sun

High

Pinnate

Gray-green

Most landscape specimens transplanted from date groves in AZ or CA.

Phoenix reclinata5

Senegal date palm

Africa

Desert regions

9a – 11

25°F

24 – 30'

Moderate

Clustering

Full sun

Moderate

Pinnate

Dark green

Suckers vigorously. Slender trunks. Thicker trunks may indicate hybridization with other Phoenix species, and may be indicative of greater cold tolerance.

Phoenix roebelenii

Pygmy date palm

Southeast Asia – Laos, Vietnam, Thailand

Rainforests

9a – 11

24°F

10'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Low

Pinnate

Glossy green

May require some protection in particularly cold periods. Separate male and female plants. Adapts well to container production.

Phoenix sylvestris

Wild date palm

India

Desert regions

9a – 11

22°F

40'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Pinnate

Blue-green

Shorter leaves than P. canariensis and P. dactylifera. Hybridizes with other Phoenix species.

Phoenix theophrastii

Cretan date palm

Crete, limited areas of Turkey

Arid, desert-like regions

8b – 11

19°F

25'

Slow

Clustering

Full sun

Moderate

Pinnate

Silvery-gray

Similar to P. reclinata, but more cold hardy.

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

Needle palm

Southeastern US

Dry, pine flatwoods

7b – 10a

5°F

5'

Slow

Clustering

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Dark green above, silvery below

Florida native. Separate male and female plants. 10 – 12" needles from crown.

Rhapis excelsa

Lady palm

China

Forest understory

9a – 11

21°F

7'

Moderate

Clustering

Shade to partial shade

Moderate

Palmate

Shiny Green

Leaves tend to yellow with too much sun. Excellent container plant. Variegated forms available, but very expensive.

Rhapis humilis

Slender lady palm

China

Known only in culture

9a – 11

21°F

13'

Slow

Clustering

Shade to partial shade

Moderate

Palmate

Green, slightly shiny

Smaller stems and leaves than R. excelsa. All plants are male; no females exist.

Sabal bermudana

Bermuda palmetto

Bermuda

Sandy, dry regions

8b – 11

16°F

25'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate to high

Costa-palmate

Blue-green

Requires well-drained location.

Sabal causiarum

Puerto Rican hat palm

Puerto Rico

Sandy, dry regions

8b – 11

19°F

50'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate to high

Costa-palmate

Green

Massive trunk, not frequently seen in the landscape.

Sabal domingensis

Dominican palmetto

Haiti, Hispanola, eastern Cuba

Hot dry inland areas to 3300'

9a – 11

22°F

60'

Slow to moderate

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate to high

Costa-palmate

Green

Large whitish trunk. Thrives on sandy soils

Sabal etonia

Scrub palmetto

Southeastern US

Dry scrublands

8b – 10

16°F

5'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Costa-palmate to palmate

Dull green to blue-green

Similar to S. minor but has smaller, deeply folded leaves.

Sabal mexicana

Rio Grande palmetto

Texas, Mexico, El Salvador

Arid, desert-like regions

8b – 11

17°F

40'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Costa-palmate

Emerald green

Drought tolerant, but grows faster with adequate water.

Sabal minor

Dwarf palmetto

Southeastern US

Understory of pine flatwoods

7a – 10b

5°F

6'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to shade

Moderate

Costa-palmate to palmate

Green to blue-green

Does not form a trunk. Larger crown than S. palmetto.

Sabal palmetto

Cabbage palm

Southeastern US

 

8a – 11

10°F

30 – 40'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

High

Costa-palmate

Dull green

The state tree of both FL and SC. Adapts well to many different soils and situations.

Sabal rosei

Llana Palm

Western Mexico

Dry savannas

8a – 11

10°F

25 – 30'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

 

Costa-palmate

Blue-green

Drought and flood tolerant. Trunk is more slender than that of S. palmetto.

Sabal umbraculifera

Hispanolian palm

Santo Domingo

 

7b – 11

9°F

60'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

High

Costa-palmate

Dull green

Stout, heavy trunk with very large leaves. Thrives on sandy soil.

Sabal uresana

Soronan palmetto

Mexico

Open forest

8b – 11

14°F

60' +

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Costa-palmate

Silvery-blue

Bluish tint to foliage becomes less distinct as the plant ages.

Serenoa repens

Saw palmetto

Southeastern US

Dry pine flatwoods

8b – 11

18°F

3 – 6'

Slow

Clumping

Partial shade to full sun

High

Palmate

Green or blue green, waxy

Florida native. Large specimens do not transplant easily.

Syagrus romanzoffiana6

Queen palm

Brazil to Argentina

Lowland humid forests

9a – 11

23°F

30'

Fast

Solitary

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Pinnate

Dark green

Susceptible to Mn deficiency on high-pH soil. Produces large numbers of fruit which some consider messy.

Trachycarpus fortunei

Windmill palm, chusan palm

China

Mountain regions to 7500'

8a – 10a

10°F

20'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Dark green above, silvery below

Fiber-covered trunk. Very cold hardy, even tolerating light snow.

Trachycarpus latisectus

Windamere palm

Himalayas of northern India

Mountain regions to 8000'

7a – 10a

1°F

18'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Dark green

Leaves shed naturally, leaving a smooth slender trunk. Unknown before 1992.

Trachycarpus martianus

Himilayan windmill palm

China, Nepal, India

Mountain regions

9a – 10a

23°F

20'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Green above, silvery below

Slimmer trunk than T. fortunei. New growth covered by whitish pubescence.

Trachycarpus oreophilus

Thai mountain fan palm

Northwest Thailand

Rocky outcrops, mountain regions

8a – 10a

14°F

30'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Unknown

Palmate

Green above, silvery below

Small compact crown of foliage. Smooth, slender trunk.

Trachycarpus takil

Kamaon fan palm

North central India

Mountain regions to 8000'

7b – 10a

6°F

25'

Slow to moderate

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Unknown

Palmate

Green

Compact growth habit. Smooth trunk.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus

Wagner's fan palm

Japan

Unknown in the wild

8a – 10a

13°F

10'

Slow

Solitary

Partial shade to full sun

Unknown

Palmate

Green above, silver below

Similar to T. fortunei, but smaller. Fiber-covered trunk.

Trithrinax acanthocoma

Spiny fiber palm

Southern Brazil

Open forests, dry savannas

9a – 11

20°F

15'

Slow

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Palmate

Deep green above, whitish below

Not widely cultivated. Long spines on trunk.

Trithrinax campestris

Blue needle palm, Caranday palm

Argentina and Uruguay

Arid regions

8a – 11

13°F

12'

Slow

Clumping

Full sun

High

Palmate

Blue-green

Erect, stiff leaflets. Drought tolerant. Fiber-covered trunk with stiff spines. Good drainage essential.

Washingtonia filifera

California Washington palm

California, Mexico

Desert regions

8a – 11

12°F

50'

Moderate

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Costa-palmate

Grayish-green

Requires well-drained soil. Larger diameter trunk than W. robusta. Hybridizes with W. robusta.

Washingtonia robusta7

Washington palm

Mexico

Desert regions

9a – 11

22°F

70 – 100'; 25' in northern FL

Fast

Solitary

Full sun

Moderate

Costa-palmate

Bright green

Though from desert regions, fastest growth occurs with regular irrigation. Requires well-drained soil.

3Non-native palms found in Florida’s natural areas are indicated, with footnotes stating their status as established by the “IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas” (Fox et al. 2005). Non-native palms without footnotes have not been reported in Florida’s natural areas and/or have not yet been assessed using the IFAS Assessment.

4In north Florida this species is not considered a problem and may be recommended. In central Florida, this species can be used but it should be treated with caution and managed to prevent its escape (counties are listed by zone at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/assess_counties.pdf). Note that other conclusions may apply in south Florida.

5This species is not considered a problem in north and central Florida and may be recommended (counties are listed by zone at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/assess_counties.pdf). Note that other conclusions may apply in south Florida.

6This species is not considered a problem in north and central Florida and may be recommended (counties are listed by zone at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/assess_counties.pdf). Note that other conclusions may apply in south Florida.

7This species is not considered a problem in north and central Florida and may be recommended (counties are listed by zone at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/assess_counties.pdf). Note that other conclusions may apply in south Florida.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH1094, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date February 2008. Revised March 2011. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edwin R. Duke, Associate Professor, Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design and Management, Florida A&M University, College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture, 306 Perry-Paige South, Tallahassee, FL 32307; and Gary W. Knox, Extension Specialist and Professor of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, North Florida Research and Education Center, 155 Research Road, Quincy, FL 32351.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.