How to Identify Palm Trees

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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How to Identify Palm Trees
Identify Palm Trees

The palm tree is known as the "Prince of Trees" for its towering height. If you're close enough to examine them you're lucky. These trees are usually found in tropical climes with an ocean nearby.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Begin at the trunk of the palm tree. There are two types of trunks common to the palm tree, subterranean and clumping; neither have branches. The subterranean trunks are below the ground, making it appear as though the tree has no trunk, the clumping trunk have multiple trunks above ground from which a number of palm trees grow. The roots spread through the sand and tunnel into rocks to support the tree.

  2. 2

    Note that there are three types of trunk surfaces. The first is smooth, the more common is the trunk covered with old leaf bases, (making it look rough and stringy) and lastly, there are the spiny trunks which aid in supporting new growth. Most trunks are straight, although some are tapered. There are certain trunks that widen in the middle giving it a bottle-shape which is indicative of seasons of drought contrasting with wet seasons.

  3. 3

    Look at the familiar characteristics of the palm leaf. There are two kinds of palm leaves: fan-like and feathery. The fan-like leaves radiate from a common point and grow at wide intervals along the stem. The feathery leaves are tuft-like, growing in thin segments at right angles from the central stalk. The leaves are firm and often have silvery or white undersides.

  4. 4

    Notice the flowers of the palm. They are small, unremarkable and usually greenish in color. They grow on branching spikes at the top of the tree with the pollen propagated by the wind or birds.

  5. 5

    Sample the fruit of the trees. This either takes the form of berries (dates) or nuts (coconuts). The general structure of the fruit begins with the seed, surrounded by an outer shell, which is often covered by a hairy skin. Outside of this is the fleshy, edible part of the fruit covered by the fruit skin. The fruit grows in nearly every color.

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