Palm Trees and Cycads From Jungle Music


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Short Palm Trees - Small Palm Trees

Palm Trees That Don't Grow Tall 

 by Phil Bergman


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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. 


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 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.  For the sake of this article, the heights below are typical heights for well grown trees.   

We are including in this article species of small palms that are both common and rare.  You'll probably have to visit a nursery like ours to find all of the plants below.  They'll not be at the "Depot Stores".   We have avoided 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.  As we approach the 20 foot mark, there are a lot more sun palms than shade species.  

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 or a bit more. This may disappoint many that there are so few to pick from, but Mother Nature didn't create more.

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
Chamaedorea microspadix
Chamaedorea radicalis
trunking form
Johannesteijsmannia magnifica
Linospadix monostachya
Lytocaruym wedellianum
Pinanga species, some
Rhapis excelsa

Rhapis multifida

Rhapis humilis

(click photo to enlarge)

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


Listed above are short palm trees of various heights for either sun or shade.  Some are super short, others approach that 20 foot mark.  But, we trust that you'll be able to find a species that works well for you.  You must not try to substitute a shade palm and try to use it in sun.  We usually have all of these species available at the nursery and can mail order or deliver any of them right to your door.


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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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