"Palm-Speak" : Learn the Language of Palms

Some Words and Phrases You May Hear Around the Palms



Palmate Leaves

Pinnate Leaves

Palm "Trees"

Twins, Triples & More

Cold Hardy or

Weather Hardened

Overall Height

or Clear Trunk


Ball & Burlap.

The palm is pulled from the ground with the main root ball intact.  The ball is then wrapped in burlap and a form-fitting wire basket.  A more common method used by commercial farms is a smaller chopped root ball with a tight black plastic cling wrap.  Whether it's burlap or plastic on the root ball, it is still called "B&B" in the industry.

No Manual Trimming Needed.

These palm varieties shed and drop their palm fronds as they grow, making them lower maintenance.  Foxtails, Royals and Christmas Palms are some self-cleaning varieties.

Fronds Grow in a Bunch at the End of a Stem.

One of the two types of palm frond leaves.  These bundles are at the end of a stem that comes from the main trunk, like "fingers" or a "fan."  Bismarcks are a good example.

Fronds Grow with Smaller Leaves along Both Side of the Stem.

The second and most familiar of the two types of palm frond leaves.  These grow like long "feathers" from the main trunk.  Queens, Royals, Coconut and many other palms have these.

Most Palms are not "Trees" and Not All Plants Called Palms Are Truly Palms.

It all depends on the official classification of the plant.  Most Palms are not actually Trees, their main trunk is actually considered a stem.  Other Palms like Yuccas, Torbays, Sagos and Travelers are not actually classified as traditional palms.

More Than One Palm Growing from One Root Ball.

Two are called twins, and three is a triple.  Sometimes species also have quads, and sometime even quints! These can have higher desirability as key decorator pieces in landscape designs, maximizing the impact statement.

Usually applies to field grown palms.  It means that the palm has been exposed to temperature fluctuations and weather variations and has stood strong and tall.  These palms have a higher tolerance for cold weather snaps as well as the stormy Florida weather.

Palms categorized as Cold Hardy can tolerate temperatures down to 20* F without suffering any significant damages.

OH / OA = Overall Height vs CT CTF = Clear Trunk Feet.

Palms are measured in 2 ways:

OH or OA - Feet of Overall height. Measured from the ground level to the tops of the tallest frond.

CT or CTF - Feet of Clear Trunk.  The height is measured from the ground level to the top of the trunk, the point where the fronds begin to emerge.

Traveler or Bird of Paradise?

How to Spot the Difference

These towering exotic large fan style palms both look alike, so how do you know if its a Traveler or  a Bird of Paradise?  You have to see the flowers to see the difference.

Both palms have beautiful "Bird Heads" as floral blooms. 

The Traveler will have a cluster of bird heads that are a flat stack, each bird head facing outward and stacked up on top of one another. 

The Bird of Paradise also has a big cluster of bird heads.  But they are somewhat separated, and each bird head in the cluster is facing a different direction.

This should help you spot the difference when you see these beautiful palms!

TPPD Disease or "Lethal Yellowing"

A deadly disease that affects specific species of palm plants, most notably Sylvester Date Palms and Canary Island Date Palms.  Treatment is done by a method of injecting the palm trunk with a specialized serum known as OTC-HCI.  Wherever you buy your palms, be sure to ask if they have been inoculated!