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Thatch Palms

There are 2 species of thatch palms that are perfect for landscapes or containers indoors and out.

The common name comes from the thatch roofs made out of their tough fan shaped leaves.

There’s the key thatch and the Florida thatch.

There are a couple of other species in a group known as silver thatches.

They are in a completely different branch of the palm tree family.

CC Original Photo by  Carl Lewis 

Key Thatch PalmKey Thatch Palm

You can easily tell the two families apart by the color of the leaves.

The silver thatch group will have fruit that is like a dark purple when ripe. These varieties have a fruit that is almost white once ripened. Both of these great fan palms are native to Florida and the Caribbean.

They are threatened in their nature habitat but with all the landscapes using them on display, they are not likely to go extinct.

Key Thatch Palm

The Key Thatch Palm is the smaller of the two varieties.

It gets up to 30 ft or so tall in the wild. It will be much smaller in your landscape, maybe 20 ft.

The leaves generally have a lighter to medium green, with slight yellow undertones on top with a more bluish to silvery color on their underside.

The leaves are around 2-3 feet wide and are deeply divided to about two thirds of the leaf.

These ones have a very light gray trunk and their leaf bases split where they meet the trunk.

This is another distinguishing characteristic between it and the other thatch palms.

They have the appearance of having rings or grooves around the older parts of the trunk.

The flower sprays can be quite long reaching from 3-5 feet.

The white flowers are of both sexes and produce the same color fruit that almost looks like long strings of pearls on yellow stalks.

Key Thatch Palm TreeKey Thatch Palm Tree

CC   Original Photo by:  Carl Lewis  

This slow growing palm is both salt and drought tolerant and is mildly cold tolerant. It is easily grown in a container and will do okay indoors with lots of light and air circulation.

It isn’t known to have nutrient deficiencies, disease or pest problems.

Quick Info: 

Scientific name   Thrinax morrisii

  • 25 ft or so tall, 7 plus feet wide
  • Minimum temp 28°F, growth zones 9-11
  • Full sun and slow growing
  • Prefers well drained alkaline to only slightly acid soil
  • Drought and salt tolerant, slightly cold tolerant

Florida Thatch Palm

The Florida variety is a larger tree than its close cousin.

It reaches up to 40 or more feet tall.

It has a trunk that only gets to be about 4-5 inches thick, is light gray to almost white in color and is very smooth.

Most of the time it is solitary, but every once in awhile one will off shoot a sucker or two.

The leaves are a brighter deep green compared to it's relative and are approximately 3 feet or so across. They will be lighter green/silvery on the underside.

 CC  Original photo by:  Leonora (Ellie) Enking 

Florida Thatch Palm TreeFlorida Thatch Palm Tree

These leaves are some of the best you can get for making thatch roofs. They are used quite often here in the Dominican Republic. Their circular leaves are segmented in much the same way, running about two thirds of the way into the leaf.

The fruit and flowers are similar on yellow branching strands around 3-4 feet or so in length.

The flowers of both sexes are white as is the small fruits once ripe.

The Florida thatch palm is also drought and salt tolerant. It is not as cold tolerant as the other variety.

It will thrive if given regular fertilizer and water in more extreme drought conditions.

It doesn’t have any nutrient deficiencies, pests or diseases that are common.

Not as good indoors as it’s close cousin.

Florida Thatch Palm TreeFlorida Thatch Palm Tree

CC   Original Photo by: scottzona 

Florida Thatch Palm Tree - Medium

Quick Info: 

Scientific name: Thrinax radiata

  • 40 plus feet tall, 8-10 feet wide
  • Minimum temp 30°F   zones 9-11
  • Full sun, slow growing
  • any very well drained soil type
  •  Drought and salt tolerant

You have a great selection of thatch palms to choose from. How will you decide? Indoors or out?  Containers or landscape?

Why not get one for each!

More to love about palms

  • Beautiful Butterfly or Areca Palm

    The areca palm is a beautiful tree with feathery leaves that is mostly cultivated as a house plant. Find out what they look like and how to grow them.

  • Triangle Palm

    Once you see a beautiful triangle palm tree, you’re definitely going to want one. Unique looking and easy to grow- they are gaining popularity.

  • Travelers Palm

    The travelers palm would make a great addition and will turn any yard into a little slice of paradise! Many call it a fan palm because of the leaf pattern.

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