Are Palm Trees Native to Arizona?

Palm Canyon, Arizona.
Palm Canyon, Arizona.

Arizona is a state in the southwestern United States. While the southern portion of Arizona has a desert climate, the northern experiences moderate temperatures during summer and even snowfall during winter. 27% of Arizona is forested, and the Northern region of the state is home to several forests. Northern Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Most palm trees grow in areas with tropical or sub-tropical climate, and in tropical regions, they grow to form tropical forests. There are about 2,600 species of palm trees and the common palm tree species being the date palm and the coconut palm. Today some species of the palm tree are endangered due to human activity.

Do Palm Trees Grow in Arizona?

Palm trees do well in USDA zones 8 to 10. These are zones that have minimum temperatures of -12 to -1. North America has 11 native palm tree species. Palm trees grow in and are in fact native to Arizona. The other US states with native palm tree species include California, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Which Palm Trees Are Native to Arizona?

Arizona’s native palm trees can only be found at the palm canyon located on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. The California fan palm/desert palm/petticoat palm also scientifically known as Washingtonia filifera is the only palm tree native to Arizona. Filifera means thread-bearing. The tree grows to about 49-66 feet tall, and it is always green throughout the year. The tree's trunk is columnar, and the leaves are fan-shaped and waxy. The California fan palm is the largest native palm in the US and can live for 80 to 250 years. Native American tribes would eat the fruit of the fan palm either raw or cooked. It is believed that the California palm in the canyon may have descended from the palm trees growing in the region during the glaciation in North America. Botanists have argued that the palm trees grew in the canyon and other protected areas as the region took up a desert climate. The palm trees survive in the canyon as they are shaded from the harsh sun but still have adequate moisture. Some researchers have also theorized that the trees may have been spread from other palm plantations by birds and animals carrying their seeds. It is difficult to tell the age of the trees in the canyon thus hard to prove any of the theories about their existence.

List of Native Palm Tree Species in Arizona

RankScientific NameCommon Name
1Washingtonia FiliferaCalifornia fan palm, desert palm, petticoat palm

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