19 Types of Palm Trees in California & Locations (Native vs Invasive)

Types of palm trees in California, invasive palm trees in California beside the pacific ocean.

There are several types of palm trees in California, and you will likely find one in various places around the state, in homes, or lining up on streets. In fact, it’s hard to picture California cities without these magnificent trees.

But, did you know that there’s only one species that’s actually native to the state?

The guide explains how these many types of palm trees in California got there, from their native status and preferred climatic zones to other noticeable characteristics like height and leaf shape. And it also offering growing tips for your outdoor palms.

Best Palm Trees for Southern California: Which Types Are Perfect To Grow in Southern California?

There are several types of palm trees in the US,9 but homeowners in south California prefer growing the following species.

Tree TypeScientific NameOriginGrowing ZoneHeightLeaf Shape
1. Triangle PalmDrypsis decaryiMadagascar9-1125-40 ftPinnate
2. Jerry PalmButia capitataBrazil, Uruguay, Argentina9-1135 ftPinnate
3. Canary Island DatePhoenix canariensisCanary Islands9-1130-70 ftPinnate
4. European FanChamaerops humilisMediterranean Coastline8-115-15 ftPalmate
5. Bismarck PalmBismarckia nobilisMadagascar9-1140-60 ftPalmate
6. Mexican FanWashingtonia robustaMexico8-1170-100 ftPalmate
7. Guadalupe PalmBrahea edulisGuadalupe Island9-1130 ftPalmate
8. Pygmy/ Dwarf DatePhoenix roebeleniiSoutheast Asia10-116-25 ftPinnate

Best Palm Trees for Backyard (Aesthetic Palm Trees To Grow at Home)

For some people who are constantly wondering: what is my ecological footprint, something as easy as planting trees might be thought of as the best carbon offset.

As we already know, tree planting forestry is a massive step to preserving the environment, and palm trees offer an ideal way to spruce up your home while conserving the environment; you can go for tropical, date or fan types, depending on your preference.4

Date Palms

These are the top choices if you are going for an elegant touch, thanks to their graceful and majestic look. The regal oasis resort-style palms are excellent examples,7 explaining why you often find them in high-end resorts.

A photograph capturing the radiance of a Date Palm Tree basking in the brilliance of the sun and a vivid blue sky.

(Image: 22171511)

The Canary Island Date is another majestic tree that will revamp your space, and you can light them up and use them for your business or at home around your pool. Lastly, the Pygmy palm’s small stature makes it suitable for patios, and it helps that it is easy to maintain.

Tropical Palms

With these palms, you can give your home a tropical feel with their deep green and heavy foliage. The elegantly long Piru Queen creates a focal point in your home and complements any design style.

Similarly, the adaptable and litter-free King Piru variety and the King Palms are excellent choices if you want trees for shade around your pool and need a lush forest-like look for your space.

Fan Palms

Fan palms thrive in extremely hot or cold regions, perfect if you want a hardy and easy-maintenance landscaping tree. The Mediterranean, Mexican, and Windmill varieties are some attractive options to go for.

Types of Palm Trees in California: Small Palm Trees Southern California

Besides the pygmy date and triangle palm, you can plant other dwarf trees if you want low bushes to serve as privacy screens or create a tropical garden in your home.

Tree TypeScientific NameOriginGrowing ZoneHeightLeaf Shape
9. Dwarf PalmettoSabal minorSoutheastern US and Northeastern Mexico7-113 ftPalmate
10. Windmill PalmTrachycarpus fortuneiChina10-1110-20 ftPalmate
11. Sago PalmCycas revolutaJapan8-1015 ftPinnate
12. Spindle PalmHyophorbe verschaffeltiiMascarene Islands9-1020 ftPinnate
13. Dwarf MajestyRavenea hildebrandtiiMadagascar10-118 ftPinnate
14. Dwarf SugarArenga engleriTaiwan10-118 ftPinnate

Best Drought Tolerant Palm Trees Southern California for Dry Climatic Zones

California has five closely spaced climates,8 and you may live in a city experiencing sweltering temperatures at certain times of the year. Therefore, you may look for a drought-resistant plant that is simpler to maintain.

A photograph featuring the striking sight of two tall Sabal trees.

(Image: Ameruverse Digital Marketing Media12)

Your best bets are the European fan, Sabal palm, Triangle palm, Bismarck palm, and Windmill palm. They are some of the hardiest palms that grow in southern California and will withstand any extreme climatic changes.

Types of Palm Trees in California: Best Palm Trees for Northern California

Nowadays, more and more people are getting interested in protecting the environment by planting trees. Knowing how many trees are in the United States and the proportion of each state’s land covered in forest would fascinate some people.

Most trees thriving in Southern California also do well in the northern region but below are some exceptional varieties.

Tree TypeScientific NameOriginGrowing ZoneHeightLeaf Shape
15. Christmas/ Manila PalmAdonidia merrilliiPhilippines10-1125 ftPinnate
16. Parlor PalmChamaedorea elegansGuatemala and South Mexico10-126-16 ftPinnate
17. King PalmArchontophoenix alexandraeAustralia10-1198 ftPinnate
18. Queen PalmSyagrus romanzoffianaSouth America9-1149 ftPinnate
19. California FanWashingtonia filiferaSouthwestern US8-1149-66 ftPalmate

Native vs. Invasive California Palm Trees

Palm trees will always come to mind whenever you picture California, as you often see them on private properties and streets. Surprisingly, only one variety is native to the state, while the rest are all from other parts of the country or different continents.

A photograph capturing the stunning visual contrast between a California Palm Tree and a clear blue sky.

(Image: NPS photo by Emily Hassell13)

The California fan or Washingtonia filifera is the only native plant in the state and is the single native variety in the western US.10 Other trees in the region were only introduced in the late 1870s as the area was establishing itself as a semi-tropical holiday spot.2

California Palm Trees Height: California Fan Palm Height

The California palm or California Fan can grow to a whopping 49-66 ft, and the leaves spread to 20-30 ft when mature. Also, each frond can reach 13 feet long, forming a massive canopy on top.1

Besides their elegance, they are also preferred by homeowners because they are easy maintenance, hardy and can live for 80-250 years.

What Is the California Fan Palm Growth Rate?

The California palm can grow to 66 ft at a steady rate of 1½ foot yearly, depending on the prevailing conditions.1 The trunk grows thick, solid, and straight with a brown color, which later turns gray. The base also slims to a diameter of 2-4 feet at the top.

What Makes the Washingtonia filifera So Special in California?

The California skylines feature diverse palm tree species, but the Washingtonia filifera is the sole native to the state. All the other varieties you will encounter, including the famous Mexican Palm, are all invasive and imported species from other states and continents worldwide.

Types of Palm Trees in California: California Palm vs Mexican Palm

These species may look alike, but a trained eye can spot the differences below.

Mexican Fan Palm tree growth chart showing full grown Mexican Fan Palm on a line graph with Mexican Fan Palm age on the x-axis and Mexican Fan Palm tree height on the y-axis.

California PalmMexican Palm
It grows short (49-66 ft)It grows taller (70-100 ft)
It has a broader canopy (20-30 ft)It has a smaller canopy (12-15 ft)
It has a thick trunk (7-8 ft wide)It has a slimmer width (3-5 ft wide)
It is hardier, tolerating temperatures of up to 10 degrees (F)It can only withstand 15-20 degrees

Palm Trees in California History: A Brief History

From around 1876, southern California marketed itself as a dream holiday destination and a desert oasis.5 The palm trees were imported by tourists when the state was previously a semi-arid land, and they immediately altered the landscape thanks to their hardiness.

The missionaries planted them in the 18th century purely for ornamental purposes, and then other people picked them up and grew more. By 1931, forestry initiatives had planted over 2500 of them, most of which are still standing.

It was a massive boost to the 1932 beautification process for the Olympics. Besides, that tree planting helped solve unemployment in the region by hiring over 400 men and planting 150 miles of Mexican Palm trees.6

Today, people are not even content with planting trees in their backyards; they want to do more. They research things like carbon offset planting trees and cremation tree pod as possible actions to balance carbon emissions and to make a positive impact on our surroundings.

What Palm Tree Is Native to California: Features and Locations of the Native California Palm Tree

There is only one native palm tree in California, the California Fan/California Palm/Desert Fan/Petticoat Fan. Its scientific name is Washingtonia filifera, the largest native palm species in the western US and the country’s original palm with the highest population out of the eleven original species.

It grows naturally in Colorado, Mojave desserts, and other Coachella Valley regions. It is common in California thanks to its hardiness, easy maintenance, and long lifespan (80- 250 years).

Are Palm Trees Invasive in California? Where Do They Come From?

Palm trees may be a symbol for California, particularly Los Angeles, but almost all are invasive species. Only the California fan palm is originally from the state, growing in the Mojave and Colorado deserts.

Palm trees in Los Angeles, California

(Image: Gary Todd14)

They were brought into the state by missionaries who transplanted them purely for aesthetic reasons, but other initiatives later increased their population in the region. Most old trees you see today may be about a century old after being introduced to the state for the first time.

What State Has the Most Palm Trees and by How Many?

Given that the palm tree is synonymous with California, many would think that it is the state with the most species and population, but shockingly, Florida has the most palm trees in the country.

You may wonder how many types of palm trees are there worldwide, and the exciting fact is that there are about 2600. Florida boasts the highest population of five species and is home to seven other varieties.

Naples, in turn, has the highest number of trees in the city, totaling over 13 000, explaining why a lot of money goes to their care and maintenance.

Growing Palm Trees Indoors: What You Should Know

Palms make excellent houseplants because they grow effortlessly and lift the face of any room. If you are considering adding one to your house, it is critical to know a few vital aspects.

1. Which Palms Should You Pick?

With the hundreds of stunning tree options at your disposal, it may be challenging to narrow down to a few, but you can use a checklist to be sure. First, always go for slow-growing trees that are easy to look after, like Parlor, Chinese and Lady palms.

2. What Is the Perfect Place To Grow a Palm Indoors?

Your palms will need care or will slowly discolor and eventually die. To help them, keep the soil moist and place the pot in direct sunlight, preferably near a window. The spot should also not be too drafty or near heating vents since they thrive under humid conditions.

3. How To Water Indoor Palms

The soil where you plant your palms should not get too dry or wet because the leaves will start turning brown and never regain their green color.

They can also rot when lying in water pools for extended periods; if you frequently water them and notice the shade changing, it is best to reduce the water amount.

Factors To Consider When Growing Palm Trees Outdoors in California

There are three main factors to consider before growing palm trees on your private property. First, you should know the tree’s full size when mature because giant species that can overpower your house or affect nearby power lines.

It is also critical to know the weather in your region because some varieties suffer under freezing or scorching seasons. It helps to consult experts and check the species’ growing zone before starting a planting project.

Lastly, although palm trees are known for their hardiness, it is still essential that they receive enough water. Therefore, you should check that it will obtain all the moisture it needs wherever you plant it.

CA Palm Tree Care Tips and How To Maintain Them

Palm trees are some of the simplest to maintain, and planting them in your home will ensure your compound always looks fantastic all year round, especially if you go for the hardy options.

If you want your palms to grow, you need to water, fertilize and trim them whenever necessary.4 They need water and iron, magnesium and zinc supplements for the leaves to stay green and fresh.

You can consider watering them at least a few times a week, or the leaves will start discoloring or dying. Lastly, trim overgrown or dropping fronds to keep the palm in great shape.

A photograph displaying a Palm Tree that has been neatly pruned and trimmed.

(Image: Derks2415)

If you’re unaware, a variety of calculators are available to trim specific trees. If you need to trim any other trees besides palm trees, you can use the tree trimming cost calculator.

Can You Find Free Palm Tree Removal?

Usually, tree removal costs you as the owner, but in rare cases, you can get it done for free and even get some money out of it. Sometimes the tree’s value is sufficient to pay back the tree removal company, and each species rates differently.

You can only get these free services if you have exotic palm trees and the most valuable ones are the Mediterranean fan, Pindo, Guadalupe, Senegal Date, and Mexican Blue fan.

How Does the Palm Tree Removal Cost Calculator Work?

Various companies offer tree removal services at a cost depending on factors like the tree’s condition and height, but the latter is the most common determinant. If you are interested to know the estimates, you can do so by using a tree removal cost calculator. Know that there are contributing factors that affect the price.

A bar graph depicting the increasing cost of palm tree removal as tree height increases, with prices ranging from around $200 for trees up to 30 feet tall to over $1,400 for trees 80-100 feet tall.

The Tree’s HeightThe Removal Cost
Up to 30 ft$150- $450
30-60 ft$200- $950
60-80 ft$400- $1,100
80-100 ft$1,100- $1,500

How Much To Trim Palm Trees? How Much Does It Cost To Trim Palm Trees?

People who are interested in planting are curious to know how much to trim palm trees. $637 is the US average cost of palm tree trimming, but the rate can go lower or higher depending on factors like the tree’s size, health and shape. The general rule is that the more work the tree needs and the longer the task takes, the higher the total cost.

How Does the Palm Tree Trimming Cost Calculator Work?

Like tree removal, the palm tree trimming cost calculator can assist you in examining potential contributing parameters.

One such aspect is height, which has an impact on the cost of trimming.

Use this calculator, or follow the general guidelines below.

The Tree’s HeightThe Trimming Cost
Up to 15 ft$60-$75
15-25 ft$100-$350
25-40 ft$200-$425
40-50 ft$350-$945

A bar graph depicting the increasing cost of palm tree trimming corresponding to greater tree heights, with the tallest category being the most expensive to trim.
You are sure to bump into one of the hundreds of palm tree species when you visit California or any other state in the southern part of the country, and you will see them growing in the wild, streets, homes, and resorts. There are over 2000 types worldwide, each thrives in certain climatic conditions, and there are popular versions that grow in every state which occasionally leaves you wondering what state has the most trees.

A photograph showcasing the timeless beauty of a California Palm Tree set against a backdrop of cloudy skies.

The California fan is the sole native tree to the respective state, while the rest are migrated varieties from other continents and states. Each has a unique feature, and you can choose a tall/ short or pinnate/ palmate option depending on your landscape needs. Considering the many types of palm trees in California, you will not run out of choices for your landscape or indoor needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Types of Palm Trees in California

What Are the Common Types of Palm Trees in San Diego?

The palm tree is an iconic symbol of San Diego and southern California, and you will find it in the streets, surrounding homes, and offering shade on sandy beaches.

The top species in the city are the Mexican Fan, Queen and King palm, Date palm, Canary Island Date palm, and Pygmy Date palm.

What Are the Common Types of Palm Trees in Palm Springs?

Palm trees are a critical aspect of the Palm Springs landscape, standing tall in almost every street in the town. The most popular species you will find there are the California fan, Date palm and Mexican fan palms.

What Are the Common Types of Palm Trees in Los Angeles?

The California fan is the only native palm tree in LA, but the city also boasts several other non-native species. While the California fan grows far into the Colorado Desert, the other two most common types you will likely run into are the Mexican fan and the Canary Islands Date.

How Many Types of Palm Trees Are There in California? Most Common Types of Palm Trees in California

You will run into more than a hundred palm tree species in California, but some are more common and find particular environments more conducive for growth.3

The popular palm tree species in California include The California fan, Mexican fan, Dwarf Sugar, King Palm, Queen Palm, Canary Island Date, Pindo Palm, Mediterranean fan, Florida Royal, and others.


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3Jungle Music. (2022). Palm Tree Species for Southern California and Other Climate Zones. Palms for Southern California. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from <https://www.junglemusic.net/palm_tree_species_for_Southern_CA.html>

4Kalawsky, L. (2022, January 21). The Top 10 Palm Trees for California & Where To Plant Them! Main Blog. Retrieved 2022, from <https://blog.moonvalleynurseries.com/california/the-top-10-palm-trees-for-california-where-to-plant-them>

5Masters, N. (2011, December 7). A Brief History of Palm Trees in Southern California. Food & Discovery. Retrieved 2022, from <https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/a-brief-history-of-palm-trees-in-southern-california>

6Broschat, T. K. (2018, January 31). Washingtonia robusta: Mexican Fan Palm. Publication. Retrieved 2022, from <https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ST670>

7Feynman, R. (2021, February 2). Experience a Palm Oasis and All the Life That Exists There. Palm Desert Center. Retrieved 2022, from <https://palmdesert.ucr.edu/calnatblog/2021/02/02/experience-palm-oasis-and-all-life-exists-there>

8Kauffman, E. (2022). Climate and Topography. A Remarkable Geography. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from <https://www.coastal.ca.gov/coastalvoices/resources/Biodiversity_Atlas_Climate_and_Topography.pdf>

9U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2022). Palm Trees in the United States. Forest Service. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from <https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/CAT87209899/PDF>

10Wikipedia. (2022). Washingtonia filifera. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washingtonia_filifera>

11Photo by 221715. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/date-palm-palm-tree-plamenfruit-532636/>

12Photo by Ameruverse Digital Marketing Media. Resized and changed format. Pexels. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-palm-trees-1686789/>

13NPS photo by Emily Hassell. PDM 1.0 DEED. Resized and changed format. Flickr. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from <https://flic.kr/p/2iEf4yR>

14Photo by Gary Todd. CC0 1.0 DEED. Resized and changed format. Flickr. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from <https://flic.kr/p/kgQh87>

15Photo by Derks24. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/windows-building-palm-tree-house-2551954/>