The Life Cycle of a Palm Tree

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The coconut palm can live 80 years or longer.

Explaining the life cycle of any plant is similar to the age-old question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" A palm tree begins as a seed, grows, and produces seeds, from which more palm trees grow.

Types of Palm Trees

The familiar tropical coconut palm is native to Malaysia but has spread throughout the world's tropical regions. Smaller species such as the areca palm often serve well as houseplants. Several species in the Phoenix genus produce dates, which are cultivated in Africa and other tropical regions.

Age at Maturity

Many species of palms are relatively slow-growing trees. Depending on their growing conditions, some palms must be 10 years old or older before they begin to produce flowers, which if pollinated, grow into fruit such as dates or coconuts. Each date contains one seed; each coconut is a seed unto itself. When these seeds are properly germinated, they produce another palm tree.

Life Span

Like humans and other animals, palm trees live for a predetermined number of years. For example, the Mexican fan palm, an icon of Los Angeles, lives for about 100 years. Coconut palms live 80 to 90 years. Various date palms can live 100 years, but are often felled when they grow too tall to harvest or when they are about 45 feet tall. Areca palms live only 40 years.

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Barbara Fahs

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.