The Palm family (Arecaceae) contains more than 2,500 species of flowering plants, almost all of which grow in tropical or temperate climates. While the coconut palm tree, an icon of the tropics, is arguably the most famous plant in the family, there are many other diverse and fascinating plants. Most have large compound leaves atop an unbranched stem.
The needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) is a shrublike plant native to the southeastern United States. The needle palm is one of the hardiest cold weather plants in the Aarecaceae family, growing as far north as USDA Zone 6. Needle palms are dense with long, needlelike leaves; they are sometimes referred to as "porcupine palms." The plant requires well-drained soil in sun or shade, although partial shade is preferable. Needle palms can also be potted and used as indoor houseplants, as they reach only 5 to 10 feet tall. The plant produces small clusters of flowers and brown fruits.
Mediterranean Fan Palm
The Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) is a clumping, shrublike palm native to northwest Africa, western Mediterranean regions and southwestern Europe. The plant has vibrant green leaves and a stout stem. The fan palm produces thick clusters of yellow flowers, followed by equally dense clusters of small brown fruits. The plant is moderately cold hardy, but it does need a fair amount of sunlight to reach its mature height of 5 to 10 feet. The Mediterranean fan palm will grow in well-drained soils to zone 7.
Red Leaf Palm
The red leaf palm (Chambeyronia macrocarpa), also known as the flamethrower palm, is a striking palm plant that boasts thick pinnate leaves. The red leaf palm gets its name from its new leaves, which are a brilliant red color before they mature into green. The red leaf palm requires well-drained soil and high humidity. Partial sunlight is ideal, and the plant needs a little extra shade when young. The slow growing plant only produces a few leaves per year. The red leaf palm grows in zones 9 to 11.