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 Palm Trees >>Palm Tree Help >>Palms That Don't Grow Tall Short Palm Trees



Palm Trees That Don't Grow Tall 

Short Palm Trees - Small Palm Trees  
by Phil Bergman

Many customers and gardeners request a palm that doesn't get tall. Their concerns are that a taller palm will obstruct a view, be more work in maintenance, or just be out of proportion to their location.  Or, they just aesthetically prefer a shorter tree. 

Interestingly enough, other customers want the towering canopy and look short palm trees,short palms, small palmsspecifically for palms that get quite tall. But, for those who want shorter palms, I have written this article.

First, lets define short and tall
There's no question that a huge Caryota species that gets up to ninety feet is tall. Also, a Serenoa species that only gets to five feet is one of the short palms. Where do we draw the line? Most people consider short to be a palm that doesn't get over 15 to 20 feet at maturity. Tall is more than 30 feet to 40 feet.  In between these two are the medium sized palms. Thus, for this article, we are going to examine palms that don't typically get more than 5 to 20 feet at maturity; this does not take into consideration cultural restrictions that may dwarf the palm or create a bonsai type plant. We are assuming that the palm will be in the ground and well maintained.  Also, the list below is for the eventual mature height of the tree.  Remember that some species are so slow that, for all practical purposes, they are short for many decades.  But, as we assume you are the best gardener in the world, these species below are given for anticipated mature heights.  Also, remember that there are always exceptions; perhaps you might be the one who can get the tree to grow taller than mentioned.  But for the sake of this article, the heights below are typical heights for well grown trees.   

Also, we are including in this article species of small palms that are both common and rare.  To find these rare species you will have to visit a specialty nursery like Jungle Music palms and Cycads.  We have avoided species that are so rare, even we or other nurseries seldom have them for sale.  Also avoided are species that only grow in tropical regions of the world.  

Another factor we've worked into the list is sun tolerance.  Surprisingly, there are more shade-loving small palm trees than there are sun-lovers.  But, when you think about it, this is natural as these "understory" palms by their nature don't penetrate the upper canopy and prefer filtered light.  Please note that, as we approach the 10 to 20 foot range, there is a much larger selection of species for sun-loving palms.  

One more point:  although it might sound silly to some of you, I've been asked many times if you can "cut off the crown" of the palm to keep it short (i.e., cut it back like you would some types of trees).  The answer is 'NO!"  It would keep the tree from growing any taller for sure, but it would kill the palm.  Large palms are large and small palms are small. 

I hope the information helps you choose the right palm for your garden.  Pictures are available on each for your convenience by clicking on the species name. 


Sun Loving Palms  
(Scroll down for list of shade & filtered light plants)

There are very few palms that are commercially available and only get to a maximum of five feet tall. This disappoints many, but it is a fact.

Serenoa repens

 (click photo to enlarge)

Small Palms

Allogoptera arenaria
Brahea decumbens (can get more than 5 feet on occasion)
Chuniophoenix species
Guihaia argyrata
Serenoa repens

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

(click photo to enlarge)

Short palm trees

Brahea dulcis (can get up to ten feet or slightly more)
Chamaerops humilis, short clones
Chamaerops cerifera (C. humilus var. cerifera)

Pritchardia, dwarf species
Rhapidophyllum hystrix
Trachycaprus wagnerianus
Ravenea hildebrandtii
Sabal minor

Dypsis baronii

(click photo to enlarge)

Brahea edulis

(click photo to enlarge)

Coccothrinax miraguama

(click photo to enlarge)

Hyophorbe lagenicaulis

(click photo to enlarge)

Dypsis lutescens

(click photo to enlarge)

Pseudophoenix sargentii

(click photo to enlarge)

Acoelorrhaphe wrightii (in tropical areas can get a bit taller)
Arenga engleri
Brahea aculeata
Brahea edulis
(can get more than 20 feet in decades)
Brahea elegans
Butia capitata
Chamaedorea plumosa
Coccothrinax species
Copernicia species
Dypsis ambositrae
Dypsis baronii
Dypsis lanceolata
Dypsis lutescens
Dypsis utilus
Gaussia maya
(gets to 20 feet)
Hedyscepe canteburyana
(may want filtered light in inland areas)
Hyophorbe indica, lagenicaulis,
and verschaffeltii
Livistona chinensis
Livistona muelleri
Nannorrhops ritchiana
Phoenix roebelenii
various species
Pseudophoenix sargentii
Ravenea glauca
Syagrus coronata
Syagrus schizophylla
Thrinax species
Trachycarpus species
Trithrinax acanthicoma
Trithrinax campestris
Zombia antillarum

Shade Or Filter Light Palms

Chamaedorea cataractcarum

(click photo to enlarge)

Short palm trees

Chamaedorea cataractarum
Chamaedorea elegans
(can get to six feet)
Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii
Chamaedorea metallica
Chamaedorea microspadix
Chamaedorea radicalis
Chamaedorea stolinifera
Chamaedorea tuerckheimii

Johannesteijsmannia magnifica

(click photo to enlarge)

Short palm trees

Astrocaryum mexicanum
Basselinia gracilis
Chamaedorea adscendens
Johannesteijsmannia magnifica
Linospadix monostachya
Lytocaruym wedellianum
Pinanga species,
Rhapis excelsa

Rhapis humilis

(click photo to enlarge)

Chamaedorea costaricana
Chamaedorea glaucifolia
Chamaedorea linearis
Chamaedorea tepejilote
Laccospadix australasica
Rhapis humilus
Synecanthus fibrosus


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Phil Bergman
Owner and Author

Jungle Music Palms, Cycads and Tropical Plants
Nursery Location: 450 Ocean View Ave., Encinitas, CA 92024
Nursery Hours: 9AM to 4PM, Monday through Saturday
Nursery Phone: 619 291 4605





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Last modified: March 11, 2015

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