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Low-maintenance landscape plants for south Florida

Palms, Cycads & Palm-like Plants (A-E)

Notes:

indicates plants commonly available in nurseries and/or garden centers in south Florida
indicates Florida native plants
 indicates plants that can tolerate wet soils or occasional flooding. 

Click on underlined scientific names for photos and/or more information.

Common name
Scientific name

Size
(feet)

Light

Salt tolerance

Comments

Macaw palm, gru-gru palm

Acrocomia aculeata

30

Full sun

High

Extremely fast-growing palm similar in overall appearance to queen palm, except with denser canopy and 4-6” sharp, black spines on trunk, petiole, and leaf rachis.

Seashore palm

Allagoptera arenaria

5-10

Full sun to light shade

High

Clumping palm with short prostrate or subterranean stems and graceful pinnate leaves, green above and silver below. Fruit arranged spirally on long stalk; cluster resembles pineapple. Excellent for beach-front. Prefers sandy soils.

Cohune palm

Attalea cohune

20-50

Full sun

Low

Huge palm with extremely long pinnate leaves (to 33 feet each) that erupt from the trunk in shuttle-cock shape. Cream-colored flower clusters followed by huge clusters of brownish yellow, woody fruits. Prefers moist soil; can tolerate drought.

Ponytail ‘palm’

Beaucarnea recurvata

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

10-30

Full sun to partial shade

High

Often mistakenly called a palm, this member of the agave family requires excellent drainage. Can tolerate some shifting shade. Also known as Nolina recurvata.

Bismarck palm

Bismarckia nobilis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

20-30

Full sun

None

Enormous palm with huge, bluish or green leaves. A native of Madagascar, this is an extraordinarily durable and highly adaptable palm.

Requires lots of room. Not suitable for a small yard.

Blue hesper palm

Brahea armata

50

Full sun

High

Tall palm with pastel bluish-white, palmate leaves. Trunk slightly swollen at base and up to 1.5’ wide, bearing persistent leaf scars. Prefers well-drained soil and arid climate, but can tolerate south Florida’s humidity. Not common.

Sierra Madre palm

Brahea decumbens

6

Full sun to partial shade

High

Low-growing palm with prostrate trunk and large, blue, fan-shaped leaves. Prefers well-drained soil and arid climate, but can tolerate south Florida’s humidity.

Bamboo cycad

Ceratozamia hildae

5-7

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Trunkless cycad with upright, bamboo-like leaves. Extremely cold tolerant. Green or brown emergent leaf forms. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Ceratozamia kuesteriana

4-5

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Trunkless, shrubby cycad with brown emergent leaves. One of the few cycads that is completely spineless, making a good plant for along sidewalks. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Ceratozamia latifolia

6-12

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Large cycad with brown, red, or green emergent leaves. May attain a spread of nine feet. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Ceratozamia robusta

6-8

Full sun to partial sun

Low

Large cycad with green emergent leaves. Cold hardy. Requires well-drained soil.

Cat palm

Chamaedorea cataractarum

3-8

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Mounding palm with elegant, dark green, glossy, feathery leaves. Can be used as a shrub or a hedge.

Bamboo palm

Chamaedorea erumpens

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-10

Partial to full shade

None

Heavily clumping palm with tall, slender stems resembling bamboo canes. Can be used as a shrub or a hedge. Also known as C. seifrizii.

Stolon chamaedorea

Chamaedorea stolonifera

3-4

Partial shade

None

Sparsely clumping, rainforest palm from Central America. Nearly entire leaves and raised annular rings on slender stems quite attractive.

Grows best in well-drained soil. Ironically, is quite drought tolerant. Forms large stands vegetatively by stolons.

Red leaf palm

Chambeyronia macrocarpa

20

Full sun to partial shade

None

Rainforest palm from New Caledonia. New leaf is bright red to maroon, fading to dark, glossy green. Requires shade when young and well-drained soil. Two forms: green crownshaft and yellow crownshaft (latter often called C. hookeri).

Silver palm

Coccothrinax argentata

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-8

Full sun

High

Small, slow-growing native palm. Round, palmate leaves with silvery undersides. Numerous small, purplish-black fruit produced nearly year-round.

Old man palm

Coccothrinax crinita

8-12

Full sun

High

Slow-growing Cuban palm bearing characteristic dense ‘beard’ of gray or straw-colored fibers on trunk. Leaves large, round, palmate. Fruit glossy purple-black.

Coconut palm

Cocos nucifera

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

30

Full sun

High

Popular tropical palm. ‘Maypan’ and ‘Fiji Dwarf’ varieties resistant to lethal yellowing. Choose plants grown only from certified seed.

Bailey copernicia palm

Copernicia baileyana

30

Full sun

High

Slow-growing palm from Cuba. Huge, stiff, blue-green leaves top massive, slate gray trunk that resembles concrete.

Cuban wax palm

Copernicia hospita

25

Full sun

High

Handsome palm of moderate dimensions. Gray, waxy, fan-shaped leaves on spiny petioles. Prefers well-drained soil and arid climate, but can tolerate south Florida’s humidity and short periods of inundation. Not common.

Cuban petticoat palm

Copernicia macroglossa

8-15

Full sun

High

Another Cuban palm. Old leaves retained on trunk and form characteristic skirt or petticoat.

Carnauba wax palm

Copernicia prunifera

30

Full sun

Moderate

Moderately sized palm with open crown of silvery-white, fan-shaped leaves. Trunk smooth on top 1/3, but bears persistent leaf bases on bottom 2/3. Wax on leaves used to make heat-resistant carnauba wax. Prefers well-drained soil and arid climate, but can tolerate south Florida’s humidity and short periods of inundation.

Ti plant

Cordyline terminalis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-10

Full sun

None

Palm-like, slender plant with unique, long, narrow leaves in red, pink, white, or purple. Also known as ‘red sister’.

Virgin’s ‘palm’

Dioon edule

3-6

Full sun

High

Medium-sized Mexican cycad. Similar in overall appearance to king sago, but with lighter green leaves. Very cold tolerant. Forms offsets at base that grow into separate trunks. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Dioon mejiae

5

Full sun to partial shade

High

Medium-sized cycad. Larger than D. edule, but smaller than D. spinulosum. New leaves bear soft, golden hairs. Suitable replacement for queen sago. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Dioon rzedowskii

5-6

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Rare, medium-sized cycad from Mexico. Similar to, but much smaller than, D. spinulosum. Use as specimen or accent plant. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Dioon spinulosum

30

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Largest American cycad. Similar in overall appearance to queen sago. Grows best in filtered sunlight. Requires well-drained soil.

African oil palm

Elaeis guineensis

30-50

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Tall palm with long, feathery, pinnate fronds. Trunk smooth on top, rough on bottom from persistent leaf bases. Fruit orange, ripen to black, held tight near trunk, high in oil content. Not suitable for small lot.

Cycad

Encephalartos ferox

6

Partial shade

High

Large South African cycad. Long, glossy, dark green, spiny leaves with leaflets resembling holly leaves. Impressive, large, bright red cones produced on males and females. Offsets form at base of plant. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Encephalartos gratus

15

Full sun

High

Large, trunk-forming cycad from South African. Long, glossy, dark green, spiny leaves. Offsets form at base of plant. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Encephalartos hildebrandtii

12

Full sun

High

Large South African cycad. Long, glossy, dark green, upright, spiny leaves. Smaller than E. gratus. Offsets form at base of plant. Requires well-drained soil.

Cycad

Encephalartos villosus

6-10

Partial to full shade

Moderate

Medium-sized, clumping, trunkless cycad with long, graceful, glossy dark green leaves. Females bear large, orange cones. Not common. Requires well-drained soil.

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  .
Perennials Palms, Cycads & Palm-like Plants (A-E)
Annuals Palms, Cycads & Palm-like Plants (G-Z)
Shrubs & Hedges (A-Ci) Ornamental Grasses
Shrubs & Hedges (Cl-Ha) Groundcovers (A-I)
Shrubs & Hedges (He-P) Groundcovers (J-Z)
Shrubs & Hedges (R-Z) Vines
Flowering & Shade Trees (A-E) Epiphytes
Flowering & Shade Trees (F-Z) Herbs & Vegetables
Fruit Trees  

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Scientific Name / Common Name Cross-Reference

Common Name / Scientific Name Cross-Reference

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