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You've seen pictures of the palms lining Sunset Boulevard. Who wouldn't want that kind of luxurious beauty in their front yard? The good news is you don't have to move to California to enjoy the shade of a palm tree. How long do homegrown palm trees live, though? We have researched this topic to find the answers that you seek!
The lifespan of a palm tree will depend entirely on its species. On average, palm trees grown in tropical or warm environments will live between 70 and 100 years.
What can you do to ensure that your palm lives a long and healthy life? Choose your species wisely and have the right tools on hand, and the palm tree you grow from seed might outlive you.
What Palm Trees Can You Plant Around Your Home?
There isn't just one kind of palm tree in the world. When you ask, "what's the lifespan of a palm tree?" you have to specify what type of palm tree you mean. There are dozens of different palm trees that you can landscape with. Some of the most common include:
- Jelly Palms
- Coconut Palms
- Hurricane or Princess Palms
- Bamboo Palms
- Spindle Palms
- Bottle Palms
- Triangle Palms
- Wild Date Palms
- Canary Island Date Palms
- Solitaire Palms
- Royal Palms
- Cocos Plumosas
- Miniature Royal Palms (or Christmas Palms)
- Mexican Fan Palms
- Areca Palms
As you're preparing your lawn for a palm, be sure to know what type will flourish in your yard.
How Long Do Palm Trees Live?
Your palm tree's life span will vary based on its type. For example, Mexican fan palms live for an average of 100 years, give or take a few years depending on the environment in which they've grown. Comparatively, coconut palms live for between 80 and 90 years. Date palms typically live for 100 years, but they often fall (due to their extensive height) before they reach old age.
The palm with the shortest life span is the Areca palm. These palms tend to live for 40 years at a time and are the most common palms to find inside people's homes. These palms are also significantly smaller than their longer-lived cousins, explaining why their lifespans are so much shorter.
What Is The Life Cycle of a Palm Tree?
So, each breed of palm tree has its own life span and preferred ecosystem. The life cycle of each palm tree, then, must be unique, right? Sort of. Palm trees as a species, however, have similar life cycles - you'll be able to identify key developmental moments regardless of the type of palm you bring home.
The life cycle of a palm tree typically involves the following:
During the germination process, the seed from which the palm grows takes root. No matter what kind of palm tree you bring home, you'll be working with a monocot or a plant who's original growth sprouts with only a single leaf.
That said, not all palm tree germination looks the same. Your palm can germinate in one of two ways. It can germinate remotely, a process during which the palm seed will sprout a stem before sprouting its roots. Alternatively, your palm can sprout adjacently. Adjacent germination sees your palm's first leaf partially emerge from the seed. After that, the palm's root system will grow out of the "button," or the part of the palm leaf that's already started to grow.
The germination process is the most complicated part of a palm's growth. After your palm's sprouted, you can expect to watch it shoot for the sun over the next several years. You'll be able to encourage new leaves to grow upward, while old leaves will fall away from the rapidly-thickening trunk.
Technically speaking, palm trees aren't trees. The trunk of a palm tree doesn't have the same wood that, say, a maple tree, does. As a result, your palm will need to expand the tissues that make up its caliper, or stem, if it's going to remain upright and study. Your palm tree will widen as it gets older, as caliper growth never really stops.
As your palm tree matures, it will start to produce flowers during the warmer months of the year. Now, these flowers won't be as prolific or prodigious as they would be on other types of trees. Palm flowers are tiny. You may be able to spot them from a distance, though, as they tend to grow in clusters.
Your palm tree won't necessarily flower every year. Some species of palm trees only flower once during their lifetime. Other palm trees will have their flowers transform into fruit every year.
Speaking of fruit: if local pollinators like bees or bats can carry pollen from one palm tree to another, your palm tree's flowers may turn into fruit. Palm fruit, like dates, grow in clusters. You'll be able to harvest these fruits once they've ripened. If you don't, the animals who inhabit your local ecosystem will make quick work of your palm's tasty treats.
Your palm tree will repeat the flowering and fruiting process for the vast majority of its life. Once your tree reaches the end of its life, you'll notice fronds and the caliper beginning to die away. That said, your palm may die more quickly if it's exposed to a significant amount of stress. Natural disasters can also uproot and kill palm trees before their time.
Once your palm has died, you can either opt to replace it with a different kind of tree or plant a new seed to start the process all over again.
How Can You Tell a Palm Tree's Age?
It's more complicated than you might think to determine the age of a palm tree. If you planted the palm yourself, it's best to record the year you planted it and keep track of its age manually. However, if you want to determine the age of a pre-planted or wild palm, you're going to have to get creative.
Dendrologists have found that the best - if not the most reliable - way to age a palm tree that you didn't plant yourself is to count the frond scars. A palm will shed its older fronds as it grows, and by counting them, you'll be able to tell when your palm reached a new stage of maturity.
When aging other types of trees, you can easily count a tree's rings to determine how old one is. This doesn't work with palms, unfortunately, because palm tree "trunks" aren't actually trunks. The trunk of your palm tree is technically considered a stem, as it doesn't consist of wood and instead is made entirely of tissue. If the trunk was made out of wood, dendrologists would be able to determine the age of unrecorded palm trees much more easily.
Are Palm Trees Dangerous?
The palm trees you see lining Hollywood Boulevard wouldn't make you think that a palm tree could be dangerous. There are some species of palm, however, that can not only stab you with sharp thorns, but that can put you in contact with harmful bacteria and fungi. Some of the more dangerous species of palms include:
- Copernicia alba
- Acrocomia aculeata
- Aiphanes minima
- Phoenix loureiroi
If you're stabbed by one of these types of palm trees or another species, you'll want to head to the doctor's office immediately. Sometimes, a palm stab wound will be nothing more than a minor irritant. Other times, palms can release toxins into your stab wound that'll trigger an allergic reaction or severe pain.
Do Palm Trees Increase the Value of a Property?
Palm trees are aesthetically-pleasing additions to any property. That said, will planting palm trees increase the value of your home? That depends entirely on the market you're working with. In general, palm trees do not add immediate, objective value to your home and property. If you happen to attract a potential buyer who loves the look of palm trees, then you may be able to use your landscaping to your financial advantage. Otherwise, palm trees are another environmental feature that'll make your lawn look good without netting you any extra dough.
What Tools Help Palm Trees Thrive?
Your standard gardener's tools will help your palm tree get a start in life. As your tree grows, though, you'll want to consider adding some specialized gear to your toolbox. Tools that'll help your palm tree thrive include:
A Serrated Knife
If you want to prune your palm tree during the early stages of its life, it's recommended that you remove fronds with a serrated knife.
A Hand Saw
As your palm tree gets older, you're going to need heartier gear to keep it pruned. Hand saws help you remove dead or dying fronds from your palm tree as it grows.
If you're feeling adventurous (or don't want to have the city pruning your palms for you), you'll want to invest in climbing gear to better take care of your palm tree. This gear, when used safely, will help you continuing pruning your palm even as it reaches extreme heights.
A Tree Brace
Palm trees don't start as 50-foot wonders. If you're growing your palm from a seed, then you're going to need to invest in a tree brace to keep it upright during its first few years of growth.
Winter Tree Wrapping Material
Palm owners who live in colder climates are going to have to work hard to get their palms through the winter. One of the best ways to protect your palm tree from a cold snap is to invest in some manner of overwintering wrapping material. This material can be burlap or another form of waterproof fabric.
If you're feeling fancy, you can purchase specialized wrapping material to keep your palm safe in the wintertime. You can find overwinter wrapping material like the goods pictured here through Amazon.
Old or young, palm trees will make excellent additions to your yard. Be prepared for a long-term commitment, though - if cared for properly, palm trees of all species will grow alongside your family for decades.