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Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

Get to Know the Beautiful Palm Tree Family

Imagine you get to spend a day on a perfect, private beach. The clear blue waves crash against the soft, pale sand. The sun beats down, and a cool breeze carries the scent of tropical flowers through the air.

Now imagine that same scene without any palm trees in the image. Does the mental scene feel incomplete as if it were the altered half of a “spot the difference” game?

Tall, magnificent palm trees are undoubtedly associated with beaches, but these beautiful trees don’t have to grow near sand and surf. They also dot the yards and line the roadways in many warmer regions. Even if you have palm trees as part of your home’s landscaping, they may still seem to possess an exotic nature.

Discover some fascinating facts about these towering trees. Below, we’ve answered questions people frequently wonder about palm trees.

Why Do Palm Trees Grow in Tropical Areas?

Despite their hard, rough bark, palm trees have one weakness that limits where they can flourish. Most species will show signs of damage if they have to live through a single freezing night. However, palm trees are perfectly adapted to grow in hot and dry climates:

  • Their roots extend deep enough to keep the tall trunk stable, even in strong winds, but many small roots branch out and stay near the surface of the soil to drink available water.

  • The large, sturdy leaves keep the tree cool so it loses less water.

  • The trunk grows very tall to extend above other trees and gather more sunlight into the fan- or feathershaped leaves.

Surprisingly, Antarctica once featured the ideal conditions for growing palm trees. Scientists discovered this fact after drilling into the seafloor near the frozen continent. About 52 million years ago, Antarctica would have experienced warm ocean currents and high levels of carbon dioxide perfect for growing palm trees.

Are Palm Trees Native to Florida?

Scientists have identified about 2,600 species of palm trees (though some are actually shrubs or vines). Of those, only 11 or 12 are native to Florida. The notable native-to-Florida palms include the royal palm with its fanned-out, feathery leaves atop a trunk that has distinct green and brown sections. Another native species is the saw palmetto, which grows to about 7 to 10 feet in height but can live for over 500 years.

Do All Palm Trees Grow Coconuts?

Coconuts are perhaps the most well-known staple taken from palm trees, which sometimes leads people to mistakenly assume that all palm trees grow coconuts-which aren’t even nuts. In truth, only one species grows these multi-layered fruits.

However, other species of palm trees do produce useful fruits. Most people are familiar with dates and açaí berries, both of which come from palm trees. Betel nuts and palm oil are also derived from this plant family. One species of palm tree even produces a fruit that tastes similar to a peach.

Can Palm Trees Be Dangerous?

Palm trees cannot intentionally harm humans or animals, but some species do come with inherent dangers. For example, quite a few palm trees bear spines on their trunks. The spiniest palm trees are rarely planted in domestic yards or public areas, but you should hire an arborist when your slightly spiny palm trees need any trimming or pruning.

Another potential palm tree danger lies in teethed leaves. The sharp points on these leaves can cling to clothing or fur, and some are even sharp enough to cut. Avoid planting low-growing palm trees or shrubs with teethed leaves, particularly if you have children or pets that play in your yard.

As for tall palm trees, they can pose dangers if planted in places where their large leaves can fall and hit people or property. The same principle applies to coconut trees-this fruit sometimes weighs in at 50 pounds, making it quite damaging to whatever it hits when it falls.

What Maintenance Do Palm Trees Require?

Even in climates suitable for palm trees, these plants still require regular maintenance. Fortunately, if you plant the appropriate palms for your temperate zone and care for your trees, they can thrive and look picturesque.

Regular palm tree maintenance should include the following steps:

  • Prune. Less is often more when it comes to pruning palm trees. Too much pruning or pruning with harsh tools can leave the tree vulnerable to disease. Trained arborists can trim palm trees so that they stay healthy and still look aesthetically pleasing.

  • Fertilize. Depending on the soil around them, palm trees may need regular fertilization to receive the nutrients they need. You’ll know your palms need fertilizer if their leaves turn yellow around the edges or become pale around the veins.

  • Place mulch. Palm trees need to get just the right amount of water to stay strong, and mulch can help roots retain moisture. Mulch also discourages weeds from growing near the tree and taking precious water.

If you have trouble caring for your tree, consult with an arborist. Pete and Ron’s Tree Service offers tree trimming services that can help you maintain your palm trees and enjoy the beauty and shade they provide.