Palms have been cultivated for centuries. The wood of the palm tree is very durable; its leaves, or fronds, are used for thatch for roofs in tropic regions, and its fruit--dates or coconuts--is eaten for sustenance. There are 150 genera within the palm family. Palm trees found in California include the California fan palm, blue hesper palm and the date palm.
California Fan Palm
The California fan palm, also known as the California Washingtonia or the desert fan palm, is native to Palm Springs and south to the Mexican border. This palm grows to a height of 75 feet. The trunk is light brown and broadens near the base, according to eNature. The leaves are fan shaped, divided into 70 lobes and attached to spine-edged stems. Dead leaves typically hang underneath the green leaves. Yellow flowers, up to 10 feet in length, bloom in the summer and in the fall; dead flowers routinely continue to hang from the tree.
Blue Hesper Palm
The blue hesper palm is a slow-growing tree that reaches a height of 40 feet. The trunk is columnar, broadening near the base. The leaves are the bluest of any palm, according to “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trees of the Americas,” by Tony Russell, Catherine Cutler and Martin Walters. Dead leaves routinely circle the trunk of the tree underneath the live leaves. The flowers are white and cluster along stems called inflorescences.
The date palm is a fruit tree that is cultivated in hot, dry climates in California. The tree reaches a height of 98 feet. The trunk is columnar and covered with scales from old fronds. The younger leaves stand upright while the older leaves arch toward the ground, according to the “Field Guide to the Trees of North America,” by the National Geographic. The flowers are yellow, up to 6 feet in length, and bloom in the spring. They are followed by purple-brown fruit.