Palm trees are plentiful in Florida, especially in the southern part of the state. In addition to adding beauty and structure to landscapes, some palm trees bear edible fruits. Dates are the most popular of the palm tree fruits, but several other varieties of palms also bear delicious fruits.
The date or Mejool palm (Phoenix dactylifera) was one of the first cultivated fruit trees. Date palms are grown commercially worldwide and dates are an important food in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. The fruit is used in syrups, ice creams, vinegars, alcoholic drinks and other foods and drinks.
Date palms are slow growing trees, but can eventually reach 80 to 100 feet tall. They have feathery dark green or silver upright fronds. The female flowers are cream and yellow, while the male flowers are white. Immature dates are green and turn dark brown when ripe. Date palms are planted in parks, resorts and residential areas in Florida.
Canary Island Palm
The Canary Island palm (Phoenix canariensis) bears small oval orange fruits that are edible but do not have a good flavor. The tree has a large curved nut that resembles a pineapple at the top of the massive trunk and feathery dark green fronds. Canary Island palms are tall trees with large canopies and are used in parks and along streets and beaches in Florida.
Pindo or jelly palms (Butia capitata) usually grow up to 15 feet but can grow as tall as 25 feet. They have long arching feathery blue-green fronds and white flowers. The orange fruit is eaten fresh or used in jellies, jams, desserts and alcoholic beverages. Pindo palms are planted in parks and residential areas in Florida.
Mexican Fan Palm
The Mexican Fan or Washington palm (Washingtonia robusta) bears round black fruits that are edible when fresh. The thin pulp around the seed has a flavor similar to dates or butterscotch. Mexican Fan palms have tall slender trunks up to 100 feet tall, large palm-shaped fronds and curved thorns.They are used as accent trees near tall buildings and along streets and beaches.
Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) are elegant palms with smooth trunks up to 50 feet tall. Long lacy fronds form a canopy up to 25 feet wide. The green fruit turns orange when ripe and has a thin sweet layer of pulp. Queen palms add a tropical look to parks, gardens and along streets and beaches in Florida.