Skip to Content

6 Popular Types of Palm Trees in California

Palm trees have become an emblem of California’s vast landscape, helping to make it a dream destination for many. In fact, anyone who hears the word California will instinctively think of palm trees.

Amidst the relative scarcity of native palm trees, California is deemed a tropical outpost for palm trees and is home to several kinds of palms.

Just one palm tree species is indigenous to California: The California fan palm.

The beach palm, classical king palm, dwarf sugar palm, Mediterranean fan palm, miniature blushing palm, pindo palm, queen palm, true date palm, and Washington fan palm are among the other types of palm trees in California.

Let’s quickly learn more about these California palm trees!

Types of Palm Trees in California

1. True Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)

The true date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), a native of Northern Africa, can exceed 100 feet when snipped into a single stem sample and was one of the first cultivars in humanity’s civilization. Diamond-shaped leaf scars adorn the broad, gray stem. The fronds are 20 feet long by 2 feet wide, feather-shaped (pinnate), and organized in a tight, 40-foot-wide canopy.

The 1.5-inch yellow-orange to red fruit is oblong and has a huge, sharp seed enveloped by sugary skin. Dates are made from blossoms on 4-foot inflorescences that spring up from among the fronds in the spring.

Male and female crops must be cultivated next to each other in a bid for the female plants to yield dates. Other date palm varieties include the pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii), the Senegal date palm (Phoenix reclinata), and the Canary Islands date palm (Phoenix canariensis).

See Also: Types of Palm Trees in Texas

2. California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

The California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) is the only palm native to the state and is being cultivated in subtropical climates worldwide.

The humongous, gray, barrel-shaped stem can attain over 3 feet in diameter at its thickest point and is encircled with old leaf scars, achieving 60 feet and having a crown spread of 15 feet. California fan palms can have up to 30 gray-green, fan-shaped fronds (palmate), each 3 to 6 feet through.

These palmate fronds construct a weak and open crown. The fully developed California fan palm’s leaf stems (petioles) have rounded thistles along the fringes. The cotton-like strands on and between the leaflets visible even on fully grown palms are a distinctive feature of the California fan palm.

3. Cuban Royal Palm

The Cuban Royal Palm has an eye-catching sleek white or grey stem and a pale green crown shaft that balances in perfectly with the coastal Californian scenery.

Cuban Royal Palms grow slowly to quickly and can be cultivated in direct sunlight or dappled shade. They are drought-tolerant and require little to no water once set up.

They also flourish in the high temperatures, even in the low wilderness, making them a highly adaptable palm species that can be grown from coast to desert. Cuban palms can withstand almost any soil type and provide a lovely shadow in almost any environment.

4. Washington Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

The Washington fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) is native to the desert mountainous areas and canyons of Sonora and Baja Mexico.

It tends to grow to over 100 feet tall and has a pale, 10 to 12-inch stem that protrudes at the floor and becomes more slimmed as it nears the crown of big, high gloss, green palmate leaves with sagging leaflet tips. The leaves can grow to be 5 feet long and 4 feet wide.

The orange leaf stalks are 3-feet tall and trimmed with saw-tooth ridges. When the palmate fronds drop dead, they drop against the stem, forming a “hula skirt” impact. This skirt of dry palmate foliage is a fire risk and a haven for rats and other unwanted organisms; as a result, most Californian communities also engage with the removal of these fallen palmate foliages.

In the early summer, sizable, light-beige, stemmed flower stalks (inflorescences) emerge, expanding 7 to 10 feet long, with the blossoms evolving into ½-inch blackberries. The California Invasive Plant Council considers the Washington fan palm an invader.

See Also: Types of Florida Palm Trees

5. Beach Palm (Allagoptera arenaria)

The beach palm, also established as the sand palm or seashore palm, is native to Argentina and Brazil. It is a low-maintenance decorative palm that keeps growing up to six feet tall and has a crown of up to 15 fronds on each shaft, making it a comparatively tiny pinnate palm.

Its brief, crinkled, and pendulous rich green fronds are limited, scrunched, and pendulous. It produces coconut-shaped fruits that range in color from yellow to green.

The tree must be subjected to direct daylight, and the average temp must be at least 24°F to develop beach palm trees. It is a robust palm tree that can withstand wind, hot weather, and salt.

6. Mediterranean Fan Palms (Chamaerops humilis)

The Mediterranean fan palm is a brief type of palm that grows to a seasoned height of only 15 feet in the Mediterranean seas. It is one of the riskiest palms, able to withstand temperatures as low as 10°F and as high as 115°F.

The trunk is only roughly 12 inches thick, and the leaves are rough and pale green. The Mediterranean fan palm has fan-shaped fronds with sharp protrusions reaching three feet.

This is a suckering palm with multiple stems that look nice when thinned. It thrives in well-drained alkaline soil with full solar radiation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which palm is popular in California gardens?

The charm of all palms is unquestionable, but only a few are ideal for indoor horticultural planting due to length constraints. Because they sprout so tall, California fan palms and Mexican fan palms aren’t the best bets for gardens.

As a result, short palms, such as the true date palm and pygmy date palm, are normally the most common palms for the household.

How did palm trees make their way to California?

Historically, the Cahuilla Indians utilized palm trees for food, shelter, and the production of materials such as baskets and garments. Missionaries cultivated the first date palms in 1769 for aesthetic and religious purposes.

Is it possible to find palm trees in San Diego?

Yes! San Diego is home to six palm tree species: Canary Island date palm, date palm, king palm, queen palm, Mexican fan palm, and pygmy date palm. The most common palm in San Diego is the Mexican fan palm, which can be encountered on roadways, beach resorts, and hotels.

See Also: Palm Tree Types


Palm trees provide something in the terrain that no other tree can match. No other tree can convey a feeling of peace and an amicable way of life like the flapping of lengthy and fluffy fronds in the wind.

Growers in California benefit from being able to choose from a plethora of palm trees to plant in their homes. While those in coastal Southern California will have more alternatives, Northern California horticulturists seem to have plenty of palms from which to choose.