The Top Pinnate Palm Trees for Your Yard

canary island date palm


Paul Starosta / Getty Images 

Palm trees are one of the most attractive plants for the residential landscape. Creating the look and feel of a tropical paradise, palms are also smart and sensible choices near pools, paths, and patios because they rarely drop leaves or messy fruit. Their stateliness and spectacular leaf shapes make them great subjects to illuminate at night

Look closely at the leaf formation when choosing a palm. Most are either fan-shaped (palmate) or feather-shaped (pinnate), which create different effects depending on wind conditions and lighting. Here, we present our favorite pinnates.

  • 01 of 08

    Bismarck Palms

    Bismark palm or Blue Palm tree
    Clay_Harrison / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Bismarckia nobilis

    Also known as: Bismark palm, bismarckia palm, nobilis palm

    Frond Type: Pinnate

    How to ID it: You can't miss a Bismarck, with its straight trunk, impressive crown, and silver-blue-green fronds. It produces small, beautiful, fragrant flowers that turn into inedible blue fruits

    Landscape uses: Unlike other landscape palms, Bismarck is drought tolerant, fairly disease resistant, and does not have as many nutritional deficiencies as other landscape palm species. While large and bulky, it makes a stunning showpiece tree for larger home landscapes. This palm tolerates intense heat, growing fastest in warmer climates. It also grows well along the coast

    Height: Up to 50 feet

    Native to: Madagascar

  • 02 of 08

    Bottle Palm

    Bottle palm or palmiste gargoulette (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis) in tropical garden
    Elizabeth Fernandez / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Hyophorbe lagenicaulis

    Frond type: Pinnate

    How to ID it: The trunk of a bottle palm is rounded and swollen at the bottom and shaped like a bottle (hence, the name)

    Landscape uses: These palms look great with the lower trunk exposed in a container. They can be incorporated into tropical and drought-tolerant gardens. Often confused with a ponytail palm, which is not really a palm tree but has a similar-shaped trunk

    Height: 10 to 12 feet

    Native to: The Mascarene Islands, which are in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar

  • 03 of 08

    Canary Island Date Palm

    canary island date palm
    Simon McGill / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Phoenix canariensis

    Also known as: Pineapple palm

    Frond type: Pinnate.

    How to ID it: This palm has a thick trunk and dense, arching fronds. Leaves are 13 to 20 feet long with 80 to 100 leaflets on each side. Fruit is yellow-orange and oval, with one seed.

    Landscape uses: A favorite among many palm tree fans, the Canary Island palm form makes a bold statement in the tropical landscape or indoors. Single, massive palms are often found in front yards of old homes in Southern California and are prized for their spectacular and iconic forms. 

    Height: About 13 to 20 feet

    Native to: Canary Islands

  • 04 of 08

    Chilean Wine Palm

    Branches and leaves of Chilean wine palm - Jubaea Chilensis - threatened species in La Campana National Park, Ocoa, Chile
    Germán Vogel / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Jubaea chilensis

    Also known as: Jubaea or Chile cocopalm

    Frond type: Pinnate

    How to ID it: This palm has a very thick trunk, up to 6 feet wide or more and its purple flowers that become small orange fruits, called coquitos

    Landscape uses: It makes a nice focal point in a garden

    Height: A slow grower, it can eventually reach 82 feet

    Native to: Coastal Chile

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Christmas Palm

    christmas palm tree
    Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Botanical nameVeitchia merrillii 

    Also known as: Manila palm, adonidia, dwarf royal

    Frond type: Pinnate

    How to ID it: This palm has a slender gray-green stem or trunk. Where the crownshaft attaches to the trunk emerge 2-foot flower stalks (inflorescences), which support small gray-green flowers. In the fall, these flowers are replaced by small 1-inch green fruits. They ripen in late autumn, and toward the end of December have turned a bright red, like balls on a tropical Christmas tree

    Landscape uses: Its rather small size (for a palm tree) makes it ideal for use near patios, in courtyards, atriums, and other small-scale gardens

    Height: 16 feet

    Native to: The Philippines. Will grow in USDA Zones 10 to 12

  • 06 of 08

    Jelly Palm

    Pindo palm jelly palm, Cuba
    Anthony Collins / Getty Images

    Botanical nameButia capitata

    Also known as: Pindo palm

    Frond type: Pinnate

    How to ID it: Some have old leaf stalks, while others have clean trunks. Fronds are light green to bluish gray and can grow up to 10 feet. Leaf stems are 2 to 4 feet long and have spines along their edges. They produce bright orange fruit. The palm produces bright orange fruit. Light and soil can affect the growth and appearance of this species

    Landscape uses: Jellies are popular landscape trees in Florida, in the Gulf and Atlantic coastal regions of the southeastern United States, California and other warm climates that experience occasional frosts 

    Height: 12 to 15 feet tall

    Native to: South America, especially Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay

  • 07 of 08

    Pygmy Date Palm

    pygmy date palm
    doidam10 / Getty Images

    Botanical namePhoenix roebelenii 

    Also known asRobellini palm, miniature date palm, dwarf date palm

    Frond type: Pinnate

    How to ID it: Smaller, with full, feathery fronds, on single or multiple trunks. The slender trunk is covered with old leaf bases, which gives it a rough texture. Fronds grow upright or curve, are shiny and feathery and measure about 4 feet long. Clusters of cream-colored flowers are hidden by the foliage and produce small black dates that ripen to a deep red. Warning: Pygmy date palm has needle-like spines located at the base of the leaf stem. Like cacti or any plant with sharp spines, these can penetrate skin and clothing, which could result in an infection. Consult a doctor if this occurs

    Landscape uses: Popular for residential landscaping in front and back yards, near pools and in a tropical or drought-tolerant garden. Robellinis look good clustered together. It also can be grown in a container on a patio, deck, or indoors. Not very cold tolerant; grows in USDA zones 9-10

    Height: A slow grower, reaching 6 to 12 feet

    Native to: Tropical forests of Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Burma (Myanmar)

  • 08 of 08

    Sago Palm

    sago palm
    NajaShots / Getty Images

    Botanical name: Cycas revoluta 

    Also known as: Japanese sago palm, sago cycad, king sago

    Frond type: While not a true palm, for classification, it will be considered a pinnate.

    How to ID it: Rather short in stature for a palm-like tree, the sago palm is a prehistoric-looking plant that's a member of an ancient group known as cycads. Its leaves are stiff and resemble palm fronds or fern leaves

    Landscape uses: Sago palms do well in large containers on patios or decks. A smart choice for drought-tolerant regions is an ancient group of plants called cycads. Its stiff leaves resemble those of palm or the fronds, sagos look good in front yard landscaping because they don't grow too tall. Since its leaves are so stiff, it's a good idea to keep it away from paths or areas where people will come in close contact, as it can be sharp to the touch. Grows in USDA zone 8-11

    Height: About 8 to 20 feet

    Native to: Southern Japan, including the Ryukyu Islands