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Dozens of different varieties of palm trees are known as thatch palm trees. These palms receive their name from the thatch they produce, which is often used as roof thatching. Though thatch palm trees are native to tropical areas, they are sold around the world as ornamental trees and house plants.
The thatch palm tree can survive both indoors as well as outdoors. Since some of these types of palms, such as the Florida thatch palm, are small, they can be kept as container plants within the home. Depending on the type of tree, these palms can grow from 12 to 40 feet (3.6 to 12 meters) in height. These types of palms are generally salt and drought resistant, making them popular ornamental plants in dry areas.
One of the largest genera of the thatch palm is the Coccothrinax genus. Over 50 different species make up this group of plants. These palms range from small to medium, and can be found in tropical areas, such as Cuba and Florida. Many of these are known as silver thatch palms due to the presence of silvery leaves. The trees in this genus are also known for their dense stems covered in crossed spines, giving the trees an appearance similar to that of a yarn skein.
Taller versions of the thatch palm can be found in Australia. The Howea belmoreana and Howea forsteriana are both grown and exported from Lord Howe Island. Like the Coccothrinax, Howea palms feature tightly woven trunks that develop from the trees' pinnate leaves. Also known as the Kentia palm, the Howea forsteriana is often grown indoors as an accent plant, while the Howea belmoreana is more commonly cultivated outdoors.
Thatch palm trees are evergreen and require an average amount of watering. Over watering, however, should be avoided. Soil should be well-drained for best growing results. Full sunlight is recommended for these plants, though they will usually tolerate partial shade as well. Smaller palms can be spaced as little as 4 feet (1.2 meters) apart, while larger palms require more growing room, and may require spacing up to 10 feet (3 meters) apart.
Depending on each species, the plants can survive in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius) to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.1 degrees Celsius). Pruning is not generally recommended for these palm trees, though growers can do so infrequently if desired. The roots and trunks of these plants should be kept as healthy as possible for overall tree health, hence many growers choose to refrain from transplanting these palms.