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Types of Palm Trees in NW Florida

palm image by koko300 from

Cold hardy palm trees grow in NW Florida, a region that experiences occasional hard freezes during winter. Species such as the cabbage palm and needle palm are Florida natives. Other types may survive NW Florida winters but require protected locations within USDA hardiness zone 8a/b. Visit reputable tree nurseries to purchase cold hardy palm tree species suitable for the NW Florida climate. Species adapted to the central and southern areas of Florida suffer during prolonged periods of cold weather or freezes.

Cabbage Palm

The cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) is native to the Eastern United States from the Carolinas to Florida. It is a medium-sized, single-trunked palm, growing to 90 feet tall, but commonly seen around 20 to 40 feet. Cabbage palm leaves grow up to 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, with long, tapering segments. Its trunk is sometimes rough, covered with old leaf bases, called boots. Cabbage palms, hardy in warm areas of USDA zone 8, and throughout zones 9 to 11, prefer full sun to partial shade and various soils.

Needle Palm

Needles palms (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), another Florida native, is a low, bushy palm of medium texture, with single or multiple trunks. Needle palms reach 8 feet tall, with variable spread, and produce 3 foot wide, stiff, spreading palmate leaves consisting of 7 to 20, 1 ½ inch, 3-ribbed segments. The leaves are borne on slender, 2 to 3 foot petioles. Needle palm trunks are very short and thick, matted and covered with 6 to 8 inch, sharp, black needles or spines. Very cold hardy, needle palms withstand temperatures down to -6 degrees F. This palm prefers partial to full shade and nutrient-rich, moist soils.

Pindo Palm

The pindo palm (Butia capitata), also known as jelly palm, is native to South America. It is a single-trunked palm with a strongly curving canopy of leaves. Medium-sized, pindo palms reach 30 feet tall, but are often seen around 10 to 20 feet. Pindo palms have pinnate, or feather-like, 8 to 10 foot long leaves, with stiff, blue-green leaflets. Pindo palm trunks retain woody leaf bases along the entire trunk. This palm is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11 and prefers full sun and various soils and tolerates hot, windy locations. rnrnUniversity of Florida extension mentions the use of edible pindo fruit in jelly, but also warms that fruit can be messy when planted near sidewalks or patios.

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