When you think of Florida, what comes to mind? You may see crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches, bright pink flamingos, maybe even Disney, but above all, a tropical oasis! The greatest symbol of Florida is the majestic palm tree and trust us, we’ve got tons of them.
Have you ever been curious about the different types of palm trees that inhabit the Sunshine State? Well, you’re in luck because today we are highlighting some of our favorite Florida palms and what makes them unique. Whether you’re looking to add a tropical palm tree to your own yard or you’re on a mission to identify palm species in the wild, we’ve got you covered with some interesting facts about common species in the area. Just read on to learn more!
Mexican Fan Palm
Also known as a Washingtonia, the Mexican fan palm is a fast-growing species that can reach heights of 70 to 100 feet! Due to its extreme levels of growth, this palm is not often chosen for residential landscapes. However, you are likely to spot them growing naturally throughout the state of Florida. The Mexican fan palm is native to northern Mexico, but has become a common tree in Central Florida due to its hardiness. The Mexican fan palm loves the sun, but can also withstand temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
When trying to identify a Mexican fan palm look for its slender, slightly curved trunk and its crowns of large, fan-shaped, bright green fronds with shorter leafstalks. Check the underside of the leafstalks for a red streak as this is sure-fire way to identify the Mexican fan palm.
Canary Island Date Palm
Often referred to as the “pineapple palm” due to its pineapple-like appearance, this palm is actually native to the Canary Islands. This palm can grow to be 40-50 feet tall, but is very slow growing, therefore it requires many years to attain its maximum height. The Canary date palm can be grown in a wide variety of well-draining soil types. They grow best in drier soil and can withstand moderate salt spray. Don’t let this slow-growing beauty keep you away, this palm definitely rules the landscape with its aristocratic size and beauty. You may not see it growing commonly in the wild, but you’re sure to spot one looking regal in someone’s front yard throughout the Ponce Inlet area.
Surprisingly, this tropical palm is considered one of the best cold hardy palms and is quite salt-tolerant. The date-like ornamental fruits come in spring and early summer. They are edible, but we don’t recommend taking a bite out of one any time soon!
Meet Florida’s state tree, the Cabbage Palm! This palm is native to the entire state of Florida and boasts a full round canopy of palms above its trunk which can grow up to 40 feet in height. Also known as a Sabal palm, this native plant can withstand the cold down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and is also tolerant to some salt spray. Although it’s considered native to coastal Florida areas, the Cabbage Palm will not survive if salt gets to their roots, therefore you may not see one close to the water.
Lucky for Floridians, the Cabbage palm is very easy to grow and they can live to be over 150 years old! In fact, the Cabbage palm was named Florida’s state tree due to its unique spot in Florida history. Native Americans, such as the Seminoles, used Cabbage palms to build their homes. They made roofs from the fronds and hats from the strips of leaves. Early settlers also used to Cabbage palm trunks as logs for their cabin walls or dock pilings.
The Cabbage palm also produces much needed food for local wildlife. Deer, black bear, raccoons, squirrels, and wild turkey all feed on the little fruits that Cabbage palms produce. Various birds and squirrels also call this type of palm home as they nest in the crown and trunk holes made by woodpeckers. In fact, this is one palm that you are sure to spot as you explore the Ponce Inlet area. Just ask your Manatee captain to point one out as you cruise along the intracoastal.
Another Florida native, the Saw palmetto, is an extremely sturdy palm that adds great texture to seaside landscapes. The Saw palmetto have green-blue leaves and three-foot long flower stalks that appear in spring covered with small, yellow-white, fragrant flowers. The flowers turn into small yellow berries that turn black in August through October. During this time, the ripe berries act as an important food source for many mammals and birds in the area.
Saw palms grow in any well-drained soil in full-shade or sun! They are also highly salt-tolerant making them a very common sight in the Ponce Inlet area. Saw Palms cover great ground at the parks in both Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna, playing a vital role in the local ecosystem. You’re sure to spot some on your wildlife cruise!
If you love learning about palm trees and other wildlife that inhabits Central Florida then you’ll love a relaxing cruise aboard the Manatee. Here, you can sit back and relax while viewing native Florida vegetation and wildlife in their natural habitat. A peaceful boat cruise is the ideal way to safely and comfortably appreciate all that Central Florida has to offer.
Our two-hour excursions get you up close and personal with a variety of local plants and animals. You’ll be amazed by the Florida scenery and gorgeous water views. Plus, with three tour options to choose from you’ll be able to meet your budget and interested. Contact us today to learn more about how you can experience a unique and unforgettable time aboard The Manatee!