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.
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.