Palm trees, small, round-figured fruit trees indigenous to Central and South America and other parts of the world, are a familiar sight: everywhere you go, people seem to take notice. In tropical regions, deserts, isolated jungles, and small oases, palm trees come to life in front of your eyes. Since the earliest days of human civilization, people have used the enormous fleshy trees for food, fuel, shelter, and even fiber because the trees are so useful. Palm trees are especially useful to communities that lack running water and infrastructure, which allow them to flourish despite scarce resources.
Drought tolerant palms, also known as sun worshipers, thrive in areas with relatively short droughts. When the soil becomes dry and warm in the morning, the palms start to expand and form buds. As the day goes on and the temperature cools off, the palms stop expanding and form into blossoms. The majority of these types of palm tree species are native to Africa, although there are some that have been brought to light in parts of the Amazon rainforest. They prefer a sunny climate and high humidity; however, they do enjoy a dry spell from time to time. In places where droughts occur regularly, however, they can be a nuisance to farmers and homeowners who need to keep the plants away from their houses, especially during the dry months.
One palm species, the Atlas hybrid palm, has been shown to withstand relatively short droughts. It can tolerate up to three weeks of drought and will still produce large fruits, including an assortment of berries, nuts, seeds, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. These fruits are highly perishable, so they must be properly stored in cold weather covered containers. It is important to store them away from any types of predators that may try to catch them, such as snakes and deer.
Other types of palm trees, such as the Atlas palm, Phoenix palm, Rainwater palm, and the Fujian palm are less adaptable and can survive in more extreme heat or cold conditions. They can tolerate low temperatures for a few days but will usually go into a dormant stage after that. They do, however, enjoy a higher resistance to insects when they are younger and their leaves tend to change color in the fall. The Fujian palm is among the types of palm trees that can grow up to 30 feet in height and is often planted in arid areas. They do well in desert conditions but because they do not tolerate moisture very well, they are better suited to areas that are far from water.
One of the main characteristics that affect palm tree species is their growth rate. The speed of their growth depends largely on the amount of sunlight they receive and the amount of water they can receive. The faster their growth rate, the larger the number of trees can be grown at the same time. Species of palms with fast growth rates are typically found in dry tropical regions that have hot summers and a cold winter. The focal point, which is generally the tallest branch or trunk of a palm tree, determines the growth rate of a particular palm species.
The second characteristic, which affects the way that palm trees grow is their distribution. They can grow in all types of habitats and climates, but some are more suitable for one climate than others. For example, a palm that is native to moist tropical climates tends to be a bit flatter and is less likely to grow to the tops of the palm tree, whereas a palm that is native to drier climates grows up toward the canopy of the palm tree. The distribution of different types of palm trees affects how much of each climate zone the palm species can inhabit.
Lastly, we will discuss how moisture is retained in the soil of a palm tree. Moisture retention is an important factor in how well a species of palm can handle their environment. Palm trees are native to the dry lands of southwest Asia and parts of Africa, so they naturally have low levels of moisture in their soil. This is facilitated by the presence of underground stems and nodes where water is retained in the soil. In dry humid climates like those of the Andes Mountains or the Sonoran Desert, however, the requirement of moisture may exceed the natural level and palms will fail to thrive.
We’ve discussed three basic types of palm trees. But there are many more. Just as “peanuts” have many more types than you might think, so do palm trees. It is important to know what kind of palm you have in mind before you go out and start looking at them in the garden. You might not realize it, but you could very well end up buying a house in a palm tree.