This is a quick trivia question.

Which of these three states has the most native genera of palm?

1. California

2. Hawaii

3. Oklahoma

4. None of the above


This is not a trick question. Notice that it asks about genera rather than species.

1. California is home to many exotic specie and genera of palm; but only ONE is native. The California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera, which is also known as the desert fan palm, lives in isolated groves out in the Mojave Desert. https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/06/30/oasis/ Because it prefers hot and arid desert climates, and does not like to be watered too generously through summer, it is now a very unpopular palm for landscapes.

2. Hawaii, is populated by many more exotic species and genera of palm than California is, but only species of the ONE genera of Pritchardia are native. Many of the exotic genera were imported by ancient Polynesians to produce food. Others were imported later for landscaping.

3. Oklahoma is the sort of place where only a few of the toughest of exotic palms can survive outside. Yet, McCurtain County, in the very southeastern corner of Oklahoma, is home to ONE very rare but nonetheless native variety of dwarf palmetto, Sabal minor.

4. ‘None of the above’ is the correct answer to the question because none of the other choices above have any more native genera than any of the others.

So, although Hawaii really does have more native species of palm, it has no more native genera than California or even Oklahoma. Each of these three states has exactly ONE native genus of palm.

I am sorry that I have no good pictures of any of these palms. All three of these pictures were obtained online. I have experience with neither the dwarf palmetto of Oklahoma, nor any of the species of Pritchardia of Hawaii. However, the California fan palm happens to be my all time favorite palm, even though it is not very happy here. It is such a stately palm, and those grown from the same seed batches are uniform enough for formal plantings. They are the palms that flank the famous Palm Driveway of the Winchester House in San Jose, as they were popular for flanking driveways and roadways in California and Arizona during the Victorian period. I did happen to see California fan palm in the wild outside of Palm Springs while in school in the late 1980s and can tell you that they are spectacular in their native habitat.


Note: The elderly and deteriorating California fan palms that flanked the Palm Drive of the Winchester House have been replaced with palms that are hybrids of California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera, and Mexican fan palm, Washingtonia robusta. They are more tolerant to the irrigation of the landscape around them.

16 thoughts on “Palm Treevia

  1. I know Sabal minor. It’s one of two (!) native palms here; the other is S. texana (sometimes listed as S. mexicana) which I believe is endemic. Historically, it worked its way up from Mexico and got only about as far as San Antonio.

    You’ve reminded me that we have Palmetto State Park, which is home to a large spread of the dwarf palmetto. I’ve always thought it would be a fun visit. Maybe this summer I’ll finally do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beyond Oklahoma, I do not know what palms grow in what states. I believe that palms are native to every state that reaches the coast all the way around to Virginia, as well as Arkansas. I would guess that Florida has the most specie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The McCurtain variety does not look that impressive, but it is one of the VERY few plants that I intend to eventually acquire just for bragging rights! I SO want the palm that is native to Oklahoma!


  2. Reblogged this on Tony Tomeo and commented:

    Since posting this article three years ago, I happened to procure some seed for #3. It is unlikely anything special to anyone else, but I am very pleased with it because of where it came from.


      1. I know – and I would like to highlight this post of yours later this month on my blog – if you do not mind – I have some palm tress to share and would love to mention this – because Tony – your nature expertise are just so awesome

        Liked by 1 person

      2. thanks Tony!!
        and th way I do it will be more to reference it rather than reblog = if that is okay – highlight what I loved about it and then link (and send folks to it)

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s