How to Identify an Indoor Palm


Indoor palm trees add aesthetic beauty to your home or office. Some of them resemble the palm trees you see outside, and others do not even look like they are in the same family. Because they are tropical plants, indoor palms still need the same hot and humid conditions. Use humidifiers and fans to get the air moving and keep the thermostat up a little bit higher than normal. By looking at the fronds, or leaves, you can easily identify what type of indoor palm you have.

Step 1

Look at the leaves or fronds. Note the shape and color. Also look to see how many fronds and stems there are. Some palms grow tall and skinny like the Howea forsteriana, whereas others like the Rhapis excelsa eizannashiki have a bush-like shape. The leaves go a long way in identifying the type of indoor palm you have.

Step 2

Note the palm's shape. Some fronds are arranged in a fan-like shape, and others look like a windmill. Typical indoor palms are parlor palm, bamboo palm, Kentia palm, lady palm and Chamaedorea metallica.

Step 3

Take a digital photograph of the palm. Zoom in on the stalk and leaves to show the details. Use this picture to compare to those in reference materials such as palm guide book or an online database.

Step 4

Identify drooping leaves as being the Kentia palm. These leaves arch outward. The palm is normally in a 15-gallon plant pot and grows up to 7 feet tall.

Step 5

Look for small, numerous dark-green fronds that form a shrub-like palm. This is a bamboo palm.

Step 6

Spot metallic leaves, and you'll know it is a Chamaedorea metallica palm. Unlike most other palms, this one has stiff leaves that are undivided. They turn a deep green to black with a metallic sheen when the plant is in the shade.

Step 7

Identify the fan-shaped fronds of the lady palm. This is the most well-known indoor palm. It has one stalk with clumps of fronds growing from it. Lady palms can grow more than 14 feet tall.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital camera
  • Reference guide


  • Jungle Music Palms and Cycads: Palms As House Plants
  • Sun Palm Trees: Cold Hardy Palm Trees Species / Types for Colder Climates
  • Plant-Care: Majesty Palm -- Is it a HousMajesty Palm -- Is it a House Plant or Indoor Plant?

Who Can Help

  • Plant-Care: Indoor Palms
Keywords: indoor palm trees, identify indoor palm, identify palms

About this Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist with experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several Web sites, including eHow, LIVESTRONG.COM,, Travels and GardenGuides, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.

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