Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

Palm Trees in California

By Regina Sass ; Updated September 21, 2017
Tall palms make good shade trees.

Palm trees are widely used in California, with cold-hardy varieties available for the northern part of the state, and desert natives growing in the south. California is home to palm trees of all sizes, towering 100 feet tall for large spaces to trees less than 50 feet tall for smaller properties or group plantings. Palm trees give a garden a true California feel.

California Fan Palm

California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) is also known as the desert fan palm, American cotton palm, cotton palm, Washington palm and desert palm. The tree grows to 60 feet tall with a spread of 15 feet and produces as many as 30 gray-green fan-shaped leaves, each one measuring from 3 to 6 feet across. White and yellow flowers grow in clusters that hang down from the crown and are replaced by oblong or round red-black fruit. The tree can be found growing naturally in southern California, western Arizona, and Baja California in Mexico. Plant the California palm in full sun and a moist, well-drained soil.

Date Palm

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) grows as tall as 100 feet with a spread of up to 40 feet and produces green or blue-gray leaves that grow up to 18 to 20 feet long and 2 feet wide. The tree is either male or female and one of each is needed to produce the fruits. The dates are edible, orange to red and oblong. The tree is found in southern California and Arizona and from Florida to Texas. Plant the date palm in full sun and moist soils.

Windmill Palm

Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) is also known as the Chusan palm and Chinese windmill palm. The tree grows from 20 to 40 feet tall with a crown 8 to 10 feet wide and produces circular leaves that are light to dark green on the top, silver on the bottom and about 3 feet in diameter. Male and female yellow flowers grow on separate trees in late winter and early spring. Female flowers will produce small blue fruit in late summer. The tree is grown in central and northern Florida, the southeastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and in mild areas along the west coast. Plant the windmill palm in partial shade and well-fertilized, well-drained, moist soils.

Pindo Palm

Pindo palm (Butia capitata) is also known as the jelly palm and grows from 12 to 20 feet tall and produces light green or blue-gray leaves that grow from 5 to 10 feet long and a bright-yellow fruit. The tree is popular in North Florida, the mild Gulf and Atlantic coastal regions and in northern California. Plant the pindo palm in partial shade for the fronds to grow longer and in sandy, well-drained soil.