Quindio wax palm trees
Full-grown Quindio wax palm trees

Palms are unbranched plants topped with a crown of fronds. There are tall palms and short palms.

Palms are not true trees. They belong to a group of plants separate from trees called monocotyledons. Monocotyledons, commonly referred to as monocots, are grass and grass-like flowering plants.

Palms are more closely related to grasses and bamboos than they are to elm trees or oak trees. Palms and other monocots have flourished on the earth for more than 110 million years.

Palms are native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world. There are about 2,800 species of palms. Most species are found in tropical Southeast Asia.

Most palms have straight trunks. The trunks of most palms are the same diameter from top to bottom. A palm seedling grows low and squat and to nearly the final diameter of the trunk before it starts to grow upward. True trees have trunks that grow a little wider each year.

Full-grown dwarf palmetto palm tree
Full-grown dwarf palmetto palm tree

The top or crown of a palm is topped with tough leathery leaves called fronds. Palms, unlike trees, have a set number of leaves or fronds. The fronds radiate from the crown of the plant. A new frond will not unfold and grown until an old one dies.

Palm fronds are tough and leathery. This enables the palm to withstand harsh weather conditions like heavy rain and hot wind.

The largest species of palm is the quindío wax palm. Quindío wax palms are found in the high mountains of Colombia. They can grow up to 200 feet (61m) tall. The smallest palm is the dwarf palmetto which grows to just 3 feet (.9m) tall. It is native to the southeastern United States.

Palms belong to the botanical family Arecaceae.

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