Guide to Palm Trees

Reviewing Palm Tree Guides

Finding a guide to palm trees is pretty easy. The thing is, will it meet your needs? When you're looking for a palm tree guide, what is it you need help with? There are multiple ways a palm guide could help you out.

Here we're rating A Few Guides to Palm Trees. Because we've used quite a number of them over the years! We figure we can give you our own critique - our reviews for deciding on the Palm Tree Guide that will give you what you want.

The first we'll check out for you is one we use when we travel throughout the southeastern United States. That's next...

Southeastern Palm Tree Identification Guide

Here's a simple guide to use that covers palm trees that are found in the Southeastern part of the United States.

We have this one, and use it from time to time. Especially when we travel to visit our cousin in North Carolina, we always take it along!

Because when you know where to look, you can Find Palm Trees in North Carolina!

When we leave North Carolina, we normally take the Southern route back to Arizona. As we take a more northerly course to get there. It's because we like to cover various areas, taking a route for palm tree areas. So we plan Palm Tree Viewing Road Trips!

We find this particular little Guide to Palm Trees very handy when we do this. Traveling the southeastern coast of the United States.

Man looking over a guide to southeastern palm treesBill is Checking Into the Palms We're Likely to See on Our Next Trip to North Carolina

We wanted to give you an idea of how it solved some problems with palm tree identification. We think that overall it does a very good job for getting used to the most common palms you'll find in these states. So you'll recognize them.

Below see our review of Common Palms of the Southeast. To size up its usefulness as a guide to palm trees in the southeastern United States.

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  • It covers 35 species common in Southeastern states. And is written by a renowned palm expert Alex W Meerow.
  • It has good photos of each palm species covered. They're all a production of the nature artist, Robert O'Brien. He is well-known throughout the United States for his botanical illustrations.
  1. Plus there are image close-ups of each frond. That way you can see the true appearance of each palm's leaf.
  • It has all those we suggest as would do well growing as North Carolina Palm Trees, which some people don't realize can happen!
  1. It has those palms you'd likely find while taking a trip to North Carolina
  • There's a bit of general palm info, plus some little-known palm trivia.
  • It's conveniently inside a protective waterproof covering, sealed on all the edges.
  • It folds up handily, in a multi-page brochure type of format.
  1. That makes it handy to easily carry with you
  • And really - You can't beat the price! See the Guide's Cost!
  • If this is essential/important for you, it's USA made.


  • It doesn't show North Carolina on the given Hardiness Zone Map. 
  1. Much of NC is Zone 7b, some is 7a. And there are other microclimate zones. 
  2. So you must check for your local area yourself.
  • It also doesn't show Virginia, especially coastal areas, on the given Hardiness Zone Map.
  1. Since that state could be considered Southeastern. It traditionally & historically was known as a southern state. 
  2. An overwhelming portion of the state is in USDA Planting Zone 7: both a & b. Coastal areas are mostly Zone 8a.
  • It has many more palms than can grow or likely been seen in North Carolina & Virginia. Though perhaps maybe you'd find them in a Botanical Garden, etc. 
  • So related to those points above, it isn't strictly focused for the more northern of the southeastern states.

About Other Guides to Palm Trees


We have several other Guides to Palm Trees that we use regularly. Because we find them the best. We've purchased some that are very to not very good.

Several reference books about palms on a tableOn a Table Alongside Our Computer Desk We Keep Some Good Palm Books for Quick Access

Usually when we look for Palm Tree Related Books, we do this:

  1. We all know how they've got about everything you can think of! Plus ways for free and/or fast shipping. Or reading it on your tablet or phone with Kindle.

There are other places to go, of course.

Sometimes you'll find free books to download from Google Books. And there are many more that say "Free."

Palm Tips, Exclusives, (+ Freebies!) Fun & More, monthly at: LIFE AMID THE PALMS

 The drawback to some of them is:

  • Do you want to read online books, rather than a nice hands-on hardcopy? 
  • Many of them are old, likely out of date with their information. 
  • Plus the site may have some type of catch to get it free. Will it cost you down the road? Or do you really want another account to log into, if using it just one time.

We'll give you Reviews of our favorites. The Guide to Palm Trees we use most often, those we like and can recommend, and one that's not among the best.

Guide to Palm Trees - Four Book Reviews

Timber Press Pocket Guide to Palms

By Robert Lee Riffle. Our copy is from 2008. Note: the author passed away in 2006.

We use this guide regularly.

  • Has 200 species & some hybrids. Arranged alphabetically by Palm Species & also gives common names. 
  • Then all essential info in a concise way. 
  1. Like grows to be how tall/wide. Frond description. Climate zones. Sun, soil & water needs. Useful comments & more. 

What's really nice are his category lists. Palm species:

  • That are fast-growing
  • Ground cover types
  • Small palms
  • Colorful palm trees
  • Those good for temperate climes

Etc. It's compact for all the info it has. It's Our Go-To Book for finding initial info on an unfamiliar palm. We'd recommend this as 1st choice for a palm guide.

Ornamental Palm Horticulture

By Timothy K. Borschat & Alan W. Meerow (well-known palm tree experts). Along with Monica L. Elliott (she's an expert in Plant Diseases).

We have the 2nd edition from 2017. We had the 1st edition from 2000, found it so useful, we got the updated one.

It guides you in knowing the biology & Anatomy of Palms. But also helps if you want to Grow a Palm Yourself, plus Palm Plant Care - including Potted Palms for Indoors.

This book is quite useful to us. The newer edition adds updated science & even more photos. Be aware there is a lot of technical info & jargon. They give explanations, but sometimes it requires bouncing around.

It has a wealth of information, including the miscellaneous things that can attack a palm. Anything you can think of about for Ornamental Palm Knowledge! It's excellent if it suits your needs.

An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

By Robert Lee Riffle & Paul Craft, 2012: 2nd Edition. We have The 1st Edition. from 2003. We see in the newer edition, there are less species, but the same amount of pictures.

This large reference is useful for discovering even more details on the more familiar palms. But then has many others you may see named somewhere, but have no clue about - until you look it up here!

Palm Tree encyclopedia reference book

First it's a summary of each genus (alphabetically), including the number of species. However it doesn't necessary list all the species.

Typically though, most anything you want to look up will be here. With the usual details, plus loads more you won't find elsewhere.

It does have photos of each, but they're gathered together in a separate section in front. (Some people don't like that - it doesn't bother us!) Easy-peasy to get to the ones you want to see.

For us, we find it very useful. If you're seriously into studying palms, you may also. Palm browsers, those trying to identify palms, & beginning palm enthusiasts may not find it suited for their purposes.

For Palm Tree Identification


By Martin Gibbons.

Subtitled "The new Compact Study Guide and Identifier." From 1993.

Fairly old, which may account for some of our dissatisfaction(?). And you can pick it up used quite cheaply!

The author began a UK business (where he's well-known), that still today sells palms. Now run by his son, I believe.

The book's intro says he hopes it will be "not only a useful guide, but a means of adding to the enjoyment on any vacation or business trip to the tropics." That may be the positive point for a purchase. 

But he also says it can be useful for growing palms. So the drawbacks:

  • We've found some errors. But maybe a result from the age of the book? 
  • Many photos for identification aren't too useful for that.

If you have a choice of books, we don't recommend this one. We bought it. Now it sits on our bookshelf. We rarely open it since our first evaluation.

Takeaways for our Guide to Palm Trees

We hope some of these books that we think are good will help you out. They all have some type of guidance for learning about palms. Plus even as a guide to palm tree identification.

We've shown you our take on the value you'll have by ordering one of these Guides to Palm Trees.

Happy Palm Trails!

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