Different Types of Palm plants

You've noticed all the different types of palm plants aren't alike. With many forms among about 2700 different species. 

Their leaves can be way different from each other. Then there's flowers. All used for classification & identification. How about their trunks?

They're all captivating. Yet you may have your own preference for the looks you love. Have you wondered how to Identify Palms? When there are so many! Not an easy task, but you can get started on it.

Some leaves look like fans, others are feathery. What Does That Mean?

Other ways they can be sorted. For instance, The Ways Palm Trunks Grow.

Then there are plants that seem like palms. But Are They??

All to help guide you in figuring out which palm tree you're viewing.


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Sorting Out Different Types of Palm Plants

Figuring Out the Palm Trees in a Garden

We'll help you decipher different types of palm plants.

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Palm Tree Fronds Help With Identification

When you're trying to identify a palm tree, one of the first things you'll do is look at palm leaves. The fronds. Palm fronds give you basics for sorting out different types of palm plants.

Girl looking at plants through a magnifying glassPalm Plant Identification Techniques - Oh You Really Don't Need a Magnifying Glass! 😉

Fronds for Palm Identification

Ask these questions about the palm's leaves.


Look at the leaf as it grows from the trunk. To decide what type of frond it is.

  • Palmate: These are also called fan palms. As they often resemble a circular fan. 
  1. But think of the term palmate. They also may resemble a hand. Having the palm, with fingers coming out.
  • Pinnate: Think of a bird's feather. Or a ferny look. The small leaflets are arranged along a stem (rachis), for a feathery appearance.
Example of pinnate frond and palmate frond

Sort Palms by Their Trunk

Palm trunks come in a medley of forms. Different colors, thicknesses, smoothness & shapes. 

One way to sort them is how they appear as they grow.

A Gorgeous Variety of Trunks

CARNAUBA WAX PALM - One unique example: Copernicia prunifera has quite The Designer Trunk!

Pattern swirls around the trunk. As it moves up to the crown of palmate fronds.

Sample of Unique Trunks

Viney Climbers

A large group of climbing palms are called rattans. They grow in rain forests, rising high up into tree canopies.

Two other climbing vine palm categories aren't rattans. One subfamily is Ceroxyloxideae in the Chamaedorea genus.

Others are in the genus Desmoncus. Six of its seven species are climbers.

vintage painting of a climbing palm plantArtist's Vintage Depiction of a Climber, Desmoncus polyacanthos
Its Scientific name is Greek for Many Banded Hooked Spines
See Its Grabbers for Climbing?

Shrubby, Clustering Palms

A different type of palm plant appears bushy. Like a typical shrub.

Its shrubby appearance is from spreading out via suckers. Suckers grow off the main stem. They're a multi-stemmed palm. Some grow as wide as 10 feet.

They're often short palms. So, many can be used as Indoor Palm Tree Choices.

Tree-Like Palms

Most people think of this type of palm, when hearing "Palm Trees." Even though people refer to them as trees, they're definitely not a typical tree.

It means they have a single, solitary trunk. These different types of palm plants range from short to very, very tall.

They're tree-like because they have one single rising trunk. But they don't have branches growing out from the trunk. Instead, individual leaf stems grow out near the top. Forming the palm's crown.

Chinese Fan Palm has a single solitary trunkThe Chinese Fan is a Slow-Growing Solitary Fan Palm
When Fully Grown the Livistona chinensis Can Reach 40' Tall.

Trunkless Palms

Called acaulescent palms. The botany term for having no stem, or seeming to have no stem.

Different types of palm plants are called trunkless. Really, it's just that the trunk is hidden. Growing below the ground. As a subterranean trunk. The Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor) is a prime example.

Sullivan Palms Seem like they lack a Trunk. But that's a deception for these palms.Can You Find the Trunk or Stem? No! It's Beneath the Soil - Hiding From You.
The Sullivan Palm (Chamaedorea sullivaniorum) is rare, Native to Panama.

Other times, trunk stems creep along the ground. Making it seem like there is no trunk. But it's being a trickster!!

This Brahea decumbens palm does that!

Brahea decumbens palmIts Grows in Clusters - Making a Dense Clump.
Stems Can Get 8' High. But Usually They Sprawl Along the Ground!
Has Been Used as a Palmy Type of Ground Cover - Pretty Cool.

One unique type of Pinnate Palm is Only in the Caryoteae Genus

Palmtree Looking Plant

Some say...

"I want a different type of palm plant, because my climate is difficult for Where Palm Trees Can Grow."

That's when a different type of palmy style may suit those in cooler climates. Or anyone else, really. Some gorgeous palmtree looking plants, can add to your indoor or outdoor decor-scapes!

Poster with a variety of palm like plantsNone of These Are True Palm Plants
But They Have That Palmy Tropical Look

We have suggestions for you. Different types of palmy looking plants.

Types of Yucca Plants: Yuccas aren't palm trees. Yet different types of these palmy styled plants may suit you.

  • They have excellent hardiness to recommend them.

Types of Dracaena Plants: Another non-palm that has a palmy look to them.

  • It's for sure a calming, cool house plant. With tons of choices!

Pony Tail Palm Tree: Don't be fooled.

  • Though named as a palm, it's not! But it can be recommended!

King Sago Palm Tree: This palm look-alike sure can trick you up!

  • They have a gorgeous tropical look. Yet they're more flexible for where they can grow. 
  1. Be aware of the Sago Palm's Positive & Negative Points.

Takeaways for Different Types of Palm Plants

Getting to know the varied ways to view different types of palm plants helps you to know more about them. Their unique styling, their beauty & so much more. Good to know for evaluating what is the right palm in the right place - for you!

And there's yet Another Way to Sort Out Types of Palms.

With so many, many species, it's an exciting road to travel! Virtually & literally. Don't you think?

We'll end our look at different types of palm plants by showing you this video of palm trees bending in extreme wind storms. Like hurricanes & typhoons. They bend over, flexing almost like they're performing a dance! They bend, flex and spring back upright.

How amazing is that! In the world of different types of palm plants.

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