Does Arizona Have Palm Trees?

You wondered: does Arizona have palm trees? We live in Arizona & can help you out with that question.

Arizona is typically known for its hot, dry environment. Most people associate it with cacti. Or think of its towering red mesas, with little vegetation. People wonder: Do palm trees grow in the desert. 

Will it surprise you to learn that this desert state is home to a variety of palm trees? In fact, numerous palm varieties grow in Arizona!


Yes we'll agree that Arizona generally has a hot, dry climate. (Although our state has many areas with a temperate climate!) Arizona's desert climactic zone actually lends itself well to cultivating landscape palm trees. Many species do thrive here. They just need the proper care to get them over the hump of difficulties.

For growing many types of palms, though, Arizona is not a suitable clime. We'll catch you up with the good & bad of palms for AZ.

Rainbow forming during winter storm in the Sonoran Desert in Tucson ArizonaRainbow forming during winter storm in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.
Palm Glowing Amidst Cloudy Gloom, Seen From Our Backyard in Tucson.

Are Palm Trees Native to Arizona?

Knowing that Arizona does have palm trees, you may wonder if palm trees are native here. It might be easy to assume there are plenty of Palms Native to Arizona. But that’s not the case!

Here in Tucson Arizona, where we live, we see our native palm all around town. Really, a palm tree is native to Arizona!

Yes, there's only ONE native Arizona palm tree. It's not difficult to grow here.

It's a species which originally grew in Palm Canyon of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge (still there!).

Classic neon sign in Tucson Arizona near Miracle Mile gatewayWell Known for Saguaro Cactus, Yet Tucson has Tons of Palms

Despite being the lone native species, it's not the only palm that thrives in Arizona's climate. And it's also shared with another state. California has only ONE native palm, as well. This palm is native to both California & Arizona.

Grove of California Fan Palms, the Washingtonia filifera, in a CanyonOur Arizona Native Palm is Commonly Called the California Fan Palm.
Scientifically named Washingtonia filifera.


Yet because of its generally easy care, it's been naturalized & cultivated in Australia & Hawaii. Plus certain areas of the southeast US. It's even been transplanted to the US Virgin Islands! All of these places have areas with relatively warmer, dry microclimates.

Its natural habitat is desert riparian, near to small creeks or transient streams. And of course in the southwest US.

Does Arizona Have Palm Trees? Yes!

Arizona definitely has a diverse range of palms that can thrive in its desert areas. What's nice is how these non-native palms add beauty & diversity to Arizona's panorama. That's only one reason we love living in the City of Tucson, with palms in many landscapes.

Vintage Postcard of a Student walking a path surrounded by palms near the UofA Library.From a Vintage Postcard Showing Many Palms on Campus - As They're Definitely All Around!

They not only survive (if chosen wisely), but add to the desert culture. Guess maybe you haven't been to Arizona?

We highly recommend a trip in the late autumn or winter. For for the more hardy, try the temperate rainy season. That's the Southwest's Monsoon.

When people are determining Which Palm to Grow in Arizona, there are "rules." Many tropical, rain forest types of palms will find it very difficult surviving here.

It's best to plant the right palm in the right place, anyway. Always consider if your palm choice can survive relatively easily & well. We've seen sad looking palms that were well out of this criteria. They've already died. Or some really struggling - even with decent care.

Other types of palm trees can prosper in Arizona. Like Mexican Fan & Mediterranean Fan palms. We'll take a closer look at some of these varieties. And see which palms can grow most easily in Arizona. Come along!

Types of Palm Trees in Arizona

Which types of palm trees are in Arizona?

  • They're palms that can tolerate mostly strong to (you could say) harsh sun. 
  • They need to be able to withstand high heat temperatures. Especially those that arise regularly in more recent years.
  • Palms that aren't really thirsty survive here. Others, depending on the amount of water they need. Plus if people can attend to their water needs.

Put that all together to figure out the types of palm trees which do well in Arizona's deserts. Consider that Arizona's weather & temperatures are affected by the elevation.

For instance where we live in Tucson, the elevation is 2,643 ft (806 m).  Phoenix is 1,557 ft. (475m) lower than Tucson. Phoenix summers are uniformly hotter than Tucson.

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Tucson and Phoenix are both in the Sonoran Desert. Both cities have typical patterns of fluctuating winter rainstorms & intermittent summer Monsoon thunderstorms.

The Chihuahuan Desert is in Arizona's southeastern corner. The elevation there is even higher than Tucson. By nearly 2000 ft. (581m). For instance Tombstone AZ is regularly cooler than Tucson & much cooler than Phoenix. Among these 3 towns, Tombstone typically gets the most total precipitation. Palms are all around town. A part of private landscaping.

Palm tree in back of buildings at the Tombstone Marshal's Office Someone's Palm Peeks Over Tombstone AZ Buildings

Average winter high temperature is 69oF in Tucson; 70oF in Phoenix. While Tombstone has the coolest at 61oF. All these towns get a rare snowstorm. But Tombstone has them slightly more often.

Putting these climate factors together helps us select palm trees to grow in Arizona. With this in mind, here are some possibilities:

Seashore Palm

Allagoptera arenaria natively grows near Brazil's coastal area. You've likely imagined: sandy soil is A-OK for it.

  • Typically prefers full sun, but does okay with some shady time.
  • Zones 8b-11 suit it.
  • Likes consistent watering. But is flexible for drought & full-on rain.
Allagoptera_arenaria_NaplesBotanGard-Naples_FloridaThe Seashore Palm at its Best!

Miraguama Palm

Coccothrinax miraguama palmate fronds look like scattered starbursts! Add with a creative weave around its upper trunk. Making it so pretty.

  • 10-11 Zones. Likes sun, but not very thirsty at all.
  • Gets to 35 feet tall.
CoccothrinaxThe miraguama is Stunning, Don't You Think?

Best Palm Trees for Arizona

Date Palm

Phoenix dactylifera is the ONE producing edible dates. Does excellent in the Arizona deserts.

  • It tolerates extreme heat, drought & mild frost.
  • That means they're about perfect for Arizona's desert climates.
  • Hardiness zones 10-11, but use caution in Arizona's chillier 10b spots.
Date Palms In A Dateland Arizona GroveSun Shining Fully into This Grove of Date Palms. In the Southwest Arizona Sonoran Desert.

Canary Island Date Palm

Phoenix canariensis is a wide palm, with large proportions. We see these stately palms all around Tucson.

  • Round crown is filled with about 100+ dark green leaves.
  • Likes sun & doesn't want any over-watering! Just adequate.
  • Drawback is it's susceptible to lethal yellowing.
Phoenix cariensisNote the Full Round Crown on This Relatively Young Specimen. Can Get 90' Tall.

Bismarck Palm Tree

Bismarckia nobilis can grow to 60 feet high. Its quite wide petioles give a unique, pleasing appearance. Never mind the beautiful fronds!

  • They're drought-resistant & love full sun.
  • Cold weather doesn't bother them much.
  • Would like if you added some soil conditioner, for best growth.
BismarckiaTwo Handsome Bismarck Palms. Named for a 19th Century German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck.

Does Arizona Have Palm Trees - The Takeaway

With the details here, you'll have a better chance to choose your right palm to plant in the right place. If you wondered about if Arizona has palm trees, we hoped we helped. You can always Contact Us, if you have further questions.

And here are a few FAQs related to what many are asking about Arizona having palm trees.

What is the most common palm tree in Arizona?

The Mexican Fan palm is probably the one. You'll mostly see it along streets & in parks.  They're also about the fastest growing palm. When treated as they like, they'll get about 4 feet of height per year! Fast palm indeed. 😮 Ending up very tall.

Do palm trees in Arizona need to be watered?

People in Arizona who Plan Palms in Their Landscaping may wonder this. Especially if they moved from a temperate climate. Palms that are suitable in Arizona deserts still need watering to varying degrees. One thing to remember: be sure the soil drains well.

  • When they're young, they need regular water while getting established. 
  • As they get older it could be tapered if they're drought tolerant.
  • The main thing is, they should have a consistent weekly watering plan. A good soaking to get to all the roots. Then let the ground dry out. That's when to provide water again.

When should palm trees be trimmed in Arizona?

Palms are typically relatively low-maintenance. Trimming, or Pruning Palm Trees is something to do optionally. To rid it of fully dead fronds. It's best to do that work in late spring. Some Palms Don't Need Trimming at all.

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