How to Identify the Names of Florida Palm Trees


Botanists have identified nearly 2,600 species of palms. Common Florida palm trees include the Chinese Fan Palm, the Fishtail Palm, the Coconut Palm, the Foxtail Palm and the Royal Palm. To identify a Florida palm tree, take note of the size of the tree, the color of the trunk, the flowers, the fruit, and especially the size, color and shape of the leaves. Palm leaves can grow as long as four feet and are shaped like a fan (palmate) or a feather (pinnate).

Things You'll Need

  • notebook
  • camera (recommended)
  • The Chinese Fan Palm, or Livistona chinensis, boasts graceful, fan-like leaves that make it one of the most sought after for decorative landscaping. The trunk, which can reach fifty feet, is ringed and covered with leaf scars.The fronds are bright green and divided into sixty or more segments, forming a wide canopy that can make the trees as wide as they are tall. Flowers appear among the leaves, along with bunches of blue-black round fruit.

  • The Fishtail Palm or Caryota Mitis, so called because of the shape of its leaves, can also be grown as an interior plant. The leaves are triangular and can be light or dark green. Multiple stems are the hallmark of this palm, which can grow to twenty five feet. Flowers are green and grow in long stalks from the top of the plant.

  • The Coconut Palm,(Cocos Nucifera), perhaps one of the best known Florida palm tree, is an ornamental tree prized for its coconuts. The feathery leaves can grow to twenty feet, and the single gray brown trunk is smooth and slightly larger at the base, reaching over eighty feet. Yellowish-white flowers, found among the leaves, take a year to transform into a coconut. Coconuts come in clusters of ten or more.

  • The Foxtail Palm (Wodyetbrightia Bifurcata) is so named because of its bushy fronds that resemble a fox's tail. The bright green leaves can arch to ten feet, creating a beautiful crown. The thirty foot trunk can be single, double or triple, with dark gray coloring at the bottom and almost white at the top. White flowers and oval, green fruit come from the base of the crown. When ripe, the fruit turns red orange.

  • The Royal Palm (Roystonea Elata) is an aristocratic palm tree that can reach 120 feet. The leaves are pinnate, bright green, and can grow to almost twenty feet in length. The cement gray trunk is wider at the base, and the fragrance of the small, creamy flowers can be detected from 100 feet away. Fruit are purple and around one half inch in diameter.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a camera to aid your memory of palm tree details, such as the leaves, the trunk, the flowers and the fruit.
  • Be careful about standing under a palm with visible coconuts. They drop their fruit unexpectedly, and a coconut dropped from 20 feet can knock an unwary person unconscious.

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