The palms of San Diego

Jul 30, 2010

Stacie Bailey,

Palm Trees

The Fan Palm aka the Desert Palm is said to be native to San Diego.

Palm trees are believed to have originated in Mesopotamia 6,000 years ago.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wondered how there could possibly be palm trees in California when they are usually shown–or aleast t portrayed–in an island- or beach-like settings such as Hawaii or the Bahamas.
I got a chance to see first-hand where they are located in San Diegoe when I traveled to San Diego for the 35th NABJ Convention. I see now just how close the city is to the shore. However, it was a definite shock to discover that although the city has palm trees like Hawaii might have, the temperature is cooler than expected.
Palm trees are believed to have originated in Mesopotamia 6,000 years ago although the exact location or date  is unclear. There are more than 2,500 species of palm as part of the Arecaceae or Palmae family. If I had to guess, I’d say there are about as many palm trees in San Diego as there are species. Looking out of my window on the 17th floor, I can see more than I can count and that’s just one view!
One species that is possibly native to San Diego as well as southern California is the Fan Palm. The Fan Palm is also known as the Desert Palm or the California Washingtonia. The leaves of a Palm are much shorter grow up and outward similar to a fan instead of long, draping leaves often found in species that contain “pinnate” leaves that branch out on both sides instead of fanning out from a central point like the “palmate” leaf. Palm trees are often used for decorative purposes as some produce flowers, although some species such as  produce dates or coconuts.

Interested in learning more about palms, check out or contact someone through the Palm Society of Southern California about the conservation or palms via