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Hawaii Palm Trees


Loulu Palm Pritchardia Minor

How many Hawaii palm trees do you think there are?

There is only one group of palms, all in the same family that are native to Hawaii. They are in the family branch of Pritchardia also know as loulu palms.

This family has about 29 different members in it of which approx 19 of those members are native to Hawaiian Islands. These and other members of the family are native to some of the other Islands in the Pacific.

Fiji is a good example of the island and the Fiji fan palm- Pritchardia Pacifica- is a member of the same palm family native there.

That’s pretty amazing considering the optimum growing conditions for many palms that the islands have.

The ecology there includes rainforests, mountain terrains, beaches and of course volcanic activity and then some.

The climate throughout the islands provides perfect growing conditions for many imported palms.

This includes palms that thrive in cooler climates at higher elevations or the ones that prefer a beach side residence like the coconut palm.

Native Hawaii Palm Trees

There are a few different varieties of this family that are also called the loulu palm. Some actually consider all the family members native to Hawaii as loulu palms. If you here this term it could mean almost any member of the Pritchardia group.

The Pritchardia palms are in the fan leaf category. This group of Hawaii palm trees vary widely in size from about 10-12 feet tall to over 120 feet.

Loula Palm Tree Fruit
Loulu Palm Pritchardia Affinis

Photos by Forrest and Kim Star on Flicker

The fan leaves can range in color from many shades of green, to silver to almost blue. There’s even one that has the new leaves emerge in a yellowy color. Sometimes the underside of the leaf actually retains that color.

The leaves also range from having smaller divided segments to being deeply divided. Most look like they are pleated.

The leaves of loulu palms are used in thatch roofs and for making hats.

Most have yellow flowers of both sexes that once pollinated will produce a fruit that is brown to almost black when ripe.

On some of the species the flower "branches" are longer than the leaves so they will hang out past them.

This group of palms are generally easy to germinate from seed.

That has made them easier for distribution around the world to gardeners and landscapers everywhere.   


Original photo by David Eickhoff on flicker

Loulu Palm Pritchardia Hillebrandii

All the members of loulu palm family are either threatened or critically endangered in their natural habitat.

This is mostly due to the cutting and clearing of land for crops as well as human settlement.

Rats eating the fruit/seeds are also considered a large contributor to their disappearance.

To combat the rats there are many palms sporting metal bands wrapped around their trunks. The band helps prevent the rats from being able to climb the trees.

The young immature fruits are enjoyed by humans as well. They have a flavor similar to coconut but are a much smaller size.


If they can climb the trunk then they don’t just eat the ripening fruit and seed, they also like to munch on the new shoots of leaves emerging.

Palms only grow new leaves from a single location called the “bud “.

If it is too badly damaged like eaten by rats, then the tree will die.

There are some people on the islands that have started a recovery program to re-establish these great trees in the wild.

Young Loulu Palms in Pots at Nursery

Original photos by Forrest and Kim Starr on Flicker

Potted Loulu Palm Pritchardia Arecina

They are collecting seeds and starting the seedlings in protected areas. The goals include replanting them in nature in the areas they came from. Hopefully the extra efforts will be rewarded in the near future.  

They are also using them to plant in cities, parks, and in landscapes all over the islands instead of the species that aren’t native.

Loulu Palm Pritchardia Glabtrata

The loulu palm trees are actually easier for the cities to look after, not requiring as many resources and money to look after.

Maintenance like pruning is a lot less involved than with others like the coconut palm trees.

The native Hawaii palm trees and all members of the Pritchardia family are susceptible to lethal yellowing.

Care should be taken to plant them in areas without the presence of this disease for successful growing.

original photo by David Eickhoff on flicker

Imported Hawaii Palm Trees

The ideal growing conditions make it so there are many different types of imported palms on the islands.

The coconut is prevalent but was originally brought to the islands by Polynesians way back before the 1800’s.

The travelers palm, Fiji fan, lipstick or red wax palm and so many others are now growing on the islands that I couldn’t come close to mentioning them all.

So instead here's the palm tree passion Pinterest board on Hawaii palm trees. It will help to show the different varieties that are growing happily there.



I bet there’s a spot on the islands that will grow just about all but the fussiest palms.



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