An icon of the tropics, palm trees are popular ornamental plants that conjure up images of relaxation and peace. More than 2,500 species of palms exist throughout the world, most of which grow in tropical or warm temperate climates. Palm trees can add an exotic touch to both the home and garden.
Fishtail Palms (Caryota mitis) is a palm tree native to the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia. The plant has a long, slender trunk, with small leaves that give the tree the overall impression of a fish tail. They can reach a height of 25 feet. Fishtail Palms are versatile plants that grow in partial or full sun in well-drained soil. The red fruits of this tree should be avoided, as they are toxic if ingested and can cause major skin irritation if handled. Fishtail Palms grow in USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11. They are somewhat frost-tolerant and can be grown indoors in containers.
Canary Island Date Palm
Native to the Canary Islands off the coast of northeast Africa, Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) are thick palms that can grow up to 60 feet high. They have massive crowns of leaves, with 50 or more arching pinnate leaves growing from a single tree. These plants grow in well-drained soils in hardiness zones 9 to 11. Canary Island Date Palms require heavy sun, and although adult trees are drought-resistant, young trees need plenty of water to flourish. They have attractive orange fruit which is edible though not very tasty.
Carpentaria Palm (Carpentaria acuminata) is a slender palm native to the Northern Territory in Australia. Carpentaria Palms are popular in Australia and southern Florida as ornamental plants because of their cascading, deep green pinnate leaves. These tropical plants can grow up to 40 feet and require moist, well-drained soils; they thrive in hardiness zones 10b to 12. Though the plants love sunlight, they are not drought-tolerant: Carpentarias need lots of water. This palm produces red fruits that attract fruit bats.