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Why does Phoenix have palm trees

Why does Phoenix have palm trees?

For those who are new to the valley (or even those who have lived here long enough), you may have noticed the abundance of palm trees lining up the streets. 

While such trees don’t actually provide that much shade under the sweltering heat, they do remind passers-by of tropical vacations and leisure activities.

In fact, many households in the area have professional landscapers plant palm trees into their gardens. Architects and interior designers love incorporating them into their plans, too, as they add a beautiful visual element to any property.

Palm Tree at Home

And, most realtors say that such trees not only add aesthetic value to a home, but increase its property value as well. 

Quite frankly, palm trees greatly add welcome greenery to the desert charm. It’s hard to imagine Phoenix without palm trees defining its stunning skyline.

However, most people don’t know that palm trees aren’t native to Phoenix, or Arizona for that matter.

Why does Phoenix have palm trees?

Palm trees thrive in Phoenix because of its hot and dry climate. 

Generally, they do well in deserts because they can withstand the heat and store water in their trunks for longer periods of time.

Read on below as we dig into these further.

1. Palm trees are heat- and drought-resistant.

Most palm trees have larger leaves that shade its trunk. This allows water to evaporate slowly and it also stores nutrients longer.

2. Palm trees have larger roots.

From these large roots, smaller roots branch out and absorb more water. The roots closer to the surface have the ability to soak up moisture; while roots that spread down can soak up water found deeper in the ground.

3. Palm trees are hardy plants.

Deserts are known for extreme weather. When it’s hot, it gets extremely hot, and when it’s cold, it gets extremely cold.

However, most species of palm trees are hardy. This means that not only can they survive the heat, but the extreme cold as well. 

Where do Phoenix palms originate from?

While it remains to be a mystery where the palm trees actually came from, the general consensus is that they were brought here by immigrants from places with tropical climates. 

What types of palm trees grow in Arizona?

Currently, there are several species of palm trees that can be seen around the valley. Here are a few of the common ones:

1. California Fan Palm

Image source: The University of Arizona 

The California Fan Palm, also known as the desert fan palm, is the only palm considered native to Arizona. It’s a flowering plant that can grow up to 80-feet or more.

Its distinct feature is its large, stout trunk. They’re also known to be among the hardiest of palms.

2. Date Palm

Date Palm

Date palms are another flowering plant species which are grown for their sweet date fruits. These trees, however, can take up to 8 years before bearing any fruit.

They grow incredibly slow, which is why they can live up to 100 years, given that they’re properly taken care of. And, they also grow tall and can reach up to 100 feet in height.

3. Mexican Fan Palm

Mexican Fan Palm

Image source: Elgin Nursery and Tree Farm 

If you’ve ever walked down any street in Phoenix, you may have already come across a Mexican fan palm. These fast-growing trees adapt incredibly well to heat and low humidity, making them a favorite among landscape artists.

Mexican fan palms are also low-maintenance. This is why it’s the most common type of palm tree that you’ll find in residential and commercial properties.

4. Mediterranean Fan Palm

Mediterranean Fan Palm

Photo by: Troy Donovan 

The European fan palm, otherwise known as the dwarf palm, is an adorable type of palm that works best on smaller landscapes because of its height. 

It does not grow taller than 2.5 meters and is classified as either a tree or a shrub, depending on how high it grows and how many stems it produces.

5. Pineapple Palm

Pineapple Palm

Image source: Elgin Nursery and Tree Farm 

These cute pineapple palms are the only female palms that produce fruits. They grow relatively shorter than other palms, only at about 50-60 feet.

They’re distinctly known as such for their pineapple-shaped crowns. They’re also quite hardy due to their large trunks.

Where are the best spots in Phoenix to see palm trees?

While palm trees in Phoenix can be found pretty much anywhere, there are some spots around the valley where they’re extra pretty to look at – for free!

1. Drive along Arcadia district to see the Black Sphinx Date Palm Trees.

Drive along Arcadia district to see the Black Sphinx Date Palm Trees.

Photo by: Christina Tetreault 

Over a century ago, a curious fellow named Roy Franklin planted a few of these date palms that produced sweet black dates that tasted like honey. They’re now called Black Sphinx Date Palms and you’ll find the mother tree along Glenwood Avenue.

2. Visit Encanto Park for stunning views and exciting activities.

Visit Encanto Park for stunning views and exciting activities.

Image by Simo G via TripAdvisor

Address: 2605 N 15th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85007

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5:30AM–11PM

Another great place to visit not just for the palm trees is Encanto Park at the heart of Phoenix. It spans over 200-acres of lush greenery with a fishing lagoon, a clubhouse, swimming pools, a sports complex, and a gorgeous boathouse.

The picturesque palm trees that you’ll find around the lagoon have been there for over 80 years. 

3. Enjoy the sunrise lined with palm trees at Papago Park.

Enjoy the sunrise lined with palm trees at Papago Park.

Photo by: Jonathan Howison 

Address: 625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5AM–11PM

Just minutes from downtown, Papago Park is a popular recreation spot for hikers. It has several trails, a fishing lagoon, a golf course, and a nearby zoo.

Pro tip: The lagoon is extra beautiful at sunrise, lined with tall palm trees reflecting off the water.

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