It’s typical to see palm trees predominantly in South and Central America, North America, and Asia. From forests to roads and beaches, most of these locations are home to native palm trees.
Out of 2,600 palm tree species found across the globe, only two are native to Europe – Chamaerops humilis in southwestern Europe and Phoenix theophrasti in the eastern Mediterranean.
Chamaerops humilis is native to continental Europe, specifically southwestern Europe in the south of Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
Additionally, it is also found on the coast of France and Monaco in the southern Mediterranean.
This palm species is commonly known as the European Fan Palm or the Mediterranean Dwarf Palm which is recognizable with its bushy evergreen foliage and short height.
Its features can vary from being single or multi-stemmed of up to 8 stems, having fan-shaped leaves that are more than 20 in length.
It reproduces by pollination or seed dispersal.
One of the most common insect pollinators of this species is a type of beetle called a weevil, whereas the European badger serves as the seed disperser in southern Spain.
The second native palm tree in Europe is Phoenix theophrasti, also known as the Cretan Date Palm, which originates in the eastern Mediterranean.
It is mostly found in southern Greece but can still be found in a few areas including Crete and Turkey. True to its name, this type of date palm also produces dates.
Its fruit is yellowish to brown; however, it is deemed inedible for being unpleasantly bitter. Similar to most palm trees, it is significantly tall up to 50 ft with long leaves about 10 ft long.
This type of palm grows well in hot and dry summers and tolerates cool and wet winters.
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Palm trees mainly thrive in tropical and subtropical countries but can live in different types of ecosystems.
Most palm trees inhabit moist tropical forests, some may live in grasslands and mountains, while others thrive in swampy habitats. Generally, habitats rich in water are believed to have more palm species.
Palm trees are vastly grown all across the globe. It has had significant importance to people since civilization started. A variety of goods and products are made from palm trees including hats, medicine, ingredients, and many more.
Moreover, it is widely used as ornamental plants for landscaping and gardening. Aside from human consumption, palm trees shaped historical cultures and religions with symbolism including peace and triumph.
In the Mediterranean, palm trees were seen as objects of worship and were even used as decorations for Egyptian religious buildings.
In Spain, the Date Palm is extensively cultivated for its fruits, leaves, and trunk. This palm tree is necessary for human and animal food consumption.
Considered the only palm tree forest and the largest in Europe, the Vai Palm Forest is nestled in the east of Lassithi Crete just 25 km from Sitia town. It is home to more than 5,000 palm trees located along a sandy beach.
The origin of the forest is believed to be planted by Arabians who conquered Crete, while some say it was by Saracens pirates and Egyptian soldiers.
At present, the forest is now part of Toplou Monastery, a historic 15th-century monastery of Crete.
If you’re traveling to Europe’s finest beaches, you’ll find these places columned with palm trees.
In Spain, a plethora of palm trees can be found in Calafell and Coma-ruga in Costa Dorada, Sotabento in the Canary Islands, Alcudia in the northeast of Mallorca, Barceloneta in Barcelona, and Maspalomas in Gran Canaria.
In Italy, visit Roccella Jonica in the south of the Calabria region, Grottammare on the Adriatic coast, and Fontane Bianche on the island of Sicily to find rows of palm trees.
Several palm tree species are commonly found in the United States, specifically in California, Arizona, and Florida.
Some of the most common palm trees are the California Fan Palm, Sabal palmetto, Coconut Palm, Everglades Palm, and Silver Thatch Palm.
Interestingly, despite Los Angeles being the most iconic place for palm trees, Florida actually has the most palm trees in the country with more than 13,000 palms.
Other US states with palm trees are Texas, Georgia, Hawaii, and Louisiana.
Across the pond, the Pindo Palm, Windmill, and Needle Palms are some palm species found in England, especially in southern areas.
In Africa and the Middle East, the most common types of palm trees are the Date Palm, Bottle Palm, and Spindle Palm which produce oil and dates.
If you’re going on a tropical vacation, you’ll surely find palm trees in the Caribbean filled with Coconut Palms.
In Asia, the most popular palm tree is the Chinese Fan Palm or the Fountain Palm, famous for its decorative features.
Traveling to South and Central America, several species of palm trees can be found, especially in rainforests including the Colombian Wax Palm, Chilean Wine Palm, Andean Wax Palm, and the Cabbage Heart Palm.
Additionally, Colombia is the only country with the majority of palm tree species.