7 Common Palm Trees in SWFL

You live in SWFL or have at least visited a few times… now it’s time to learn a few palm tree names! 

While there are thousands of palm tree varieties, we thought we’d share several of the most commons palms you’ll find here in Southwest Florida. 

7 Common Palm Trees in SWFL

1. The Coconut Palm

Of course, we have to start with the iconic coconut palm tree! While coconut palms are not native to Southwest Florida, there are many of them. They do well with moist soil and can survive strong winds. You can most easily identify them by the coconuts, of course! Eventually, you’ll learn to identify even the ones whose coconuts are removed for safety purposes. 

Coconut Palms with coconuts removed

2. The Cabbage Palm

It’s the Florida State Tree, and it’s a native palm! The cabbage palm is also known as the sabal palm. It’s very tolerant of salt, wind, and even drought, which might explain why there are so many found in Florida. You’ll notice a criss-cross pattern of bark on their tree trunks from old fronds that have fallen, and long “star-like” or “fan-like” green palm fronds. Mature sabal palms have smooth trunks and can grow to 40’! 

Cabbage Palms with smooth trunks

3. The Royal Palm

The royal palm is beautiful and elegant with its tall, smooth gray trunk and clean transition to its smooth green palm fronds. Their large “feather-like” fronds, however, are anything but light. Some weigh more than 50 lbs. and are 10-15’ long! This is why it’s best to carefully maneuver around the branches when you see them in the road. You’ll only make the mistake of running over the top of them once! Drive along McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers for a great display of royal palms. 

Royal Palms (medium sized) 

4. The Florida Thatch Palm

The Florida Thatch is another native palm (hence the name)! You’ll see the thatch palm planted along roadways, or even in commercial and residential landscapes. Notice the skinny little trunk and large fan-like fronds! The name comes from the use of its fronds in thatched roofing (think tiki hut). Try to spot these guys on your next drive around town. 

5. The Pygmy Date Palm

These are a landscape favorite. You’ll see the small pygmy date palm featured in front of homes since they only grow to about 12’. They’re easy to care for, and have beautiful feathery fronds that sit atop a unique trunk base. It’s common to see two or three planted together, which creates a multi-trunk spectrum. 

6. The Areca Palm

Need privacy? Plant Areca! These thick cluster palms are often seen along property lines, providing a tropical privacy wall for both properties. Their fine-textured fronds can be left alone to create a full, dense planting, or you can trim them to expose more of the trunk. That’s why their appearance can vary greatly depending on how they are maintained. Like anything else, keep in mind their size when planting on your property.

7. The Saw Palmetto 

The name properly describes the little saw-like teeth on the edges of the long fronds. This Florida native palm is a wonderful addition to landscapes, especially the silver variety, which brings in a nice, neutral “matte” color to a yard filled with bright green fronds. These slow-growing palms can handle full sun or shade, usually growing to about 3-6’. 

The Other Palms

Of course, there are a number of other palm trees you’ll find in Southwest Florida! These are just a few to get you on your way to becoming a local palm expert! Check out the South Florida Plant Guide to help you identify other palms, flowers, and trees (click here). 

We’re happy to chat more about common palms in Southwest Florida and provide a list of suggested landscape design/maintenance companies as well. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 239-472-1950 or [email protected].

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