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Palm Tree Root System – Are Palm Tree Roots Invasive?

Palm trees are from the tropical and subtropical areas of the world, but they have become popular among the landscapers for their unique look and beauty. So, should you be worried about the palm tree’s roots if you plan to plant a palm tree? Are palm tree roots invasive? 

This article will go deep into palm roots and their behavior.

Palm tree Root System Explained

The palm tree root system does not grow too wide or deep. The whole root system of the palm tree will create a shape like a root ball, only a few feet deep and wide. The palm tree root does not become invasive, but they need at least 12 feet of space to grow a healthy root system.

Palm trees are members of the Arecaceae family, and there are 2600 species of palm trees in the world. They grow the best in tropical and subtropical areas. Some palm trees are small and great as ornamental or landscaping, but some giant species can grow over 200 feet long.

Palm trees are slow growers. Some palm species grow so slowly and large that, if you plant one now, your next generations will be able to see the mature plant and enjoy the fruits.

However, now let’s focus on the root system of the palm tree. There are thousands of species, but their root system has similar characteristics. They don’t have a tap root like other plants. A taproot means a central root from which other roots grow. 

Palm trees have fibrous roots. All the mature roots have similar thicknesses. The tree trunk usually goes a few feet deep into the ground. All the other roots grow from the trunk.

The root spreads wide as the head of the tree most of the time. The horizontal roots stay within the 12-36 inches of the topsoil. A palm tree may grow deeper roots if the groundwater level is too deep. But that is a small part of the root system. 

Sometimes palm tree roots can grow longer than 50 feet to find water. Palm trees can follow the water’s moisture and find water sources like ponds.

Pine trees grow some roots to find water from the deep and grow some roots horizontally to get manganese, magnesium and iron from the soil.

But can the roots be invasive? Usually, pine roots do not get invasive. The roots are not so thick and cannot damage concrete foundations. But on rare occasions, the roots can deal some damage to thin walkways and other similar structures.

However, concrete foundations or buildings near a pine tree can harm the natural growth of the pine tree.

We will discuss more about the palm tree roots and what you should do to avoid complications related to the palm tree roots. For now, let’s discuss some common palm trees and if they are suitable for your garden.

Pineapple palm tree: 

Pineapple palm trees can be a great addition to your garden landscape. They grow about 40-60 feet tall, but it takes many years to reach that height. They have a non-invasive root system if they get enough space.

Windmill palm tree: 

Windmill palm trees can grow 10-40 feet long and can be a great addition to your home garden.

Foxtail palm tree: 

Foxtail palm trees can reach up to 20 feet, require low maintenance, and are suitable for landscaping.

Mexican palm tree: 

Mexican palm trees can grow to 100 feet, and you can grow them with ample space.

Date palm tree: 

Date palm trees can grow about 50 feet tall and are hard to grow in some environments, so they are not recommended for landscaping.

Christmas palm tree: 

Christmas palm trees can be a beautiful addition to your garden. They can be about 25 feet tall.

Banana palm tree: 

The banana palm tree grows fast and is about 6 feet long, making them great for small gardens.

Coconut palm tree: 

Coconut palm trees can grow quite large, and you can plant them with ample space. 

Queen palm tree: 

Queen palm trees can grow about 20 feet tall and are one of the most common palm trees for home landscapes. They also grow pretty fast.

King palm tree: 

King palm trees can grow 40-60 feet and are drought tolerant. They are suitable for medium size gardens.

Does Palm tree have deep roots?

Palm trees do not have deep roots like other trees. They grow more roots horizontally than vertically and spread their roots in the upper portion of the soil. They grow roots so tightly that they can easily withstand storms and cyclones. 

They spread thousands of roots of similar thickness in the soil, increasing the earth’s strength. That’s why palm trees are often recommended for stopping soil erosion.

How Deep Are Palm tree Roots?

Palm tree roots reach about 30-36 inches deep into the soil. The depth of the root can vary depending on the species. 30-36 inches is quite a swallow for a tree of that size. But palm tree roots hold the soil so tightly that they don’t have any strength issues.

A 50 years old palm tree can grow over 3000 roots. In palm trees, there is no central or tap root. Most of the roots do not get thicker than a finger. That’s why it’s hard for them to deal with damage to concrete or structures.

Do palm trees have strong roots?

Palm trees have a strong root system that gives them strength against wind and storms. But individually, most of the roots are flexible and not that hard. So they can not crack or go through concrete structures.

However, no trees will ever want to penetrate their roots into the concrete as concrete does not have any water or nutrient sources. 

What kind of root system does a palm tree have?

Palm trees are from the family Arecaceae, and all species have similar root systems. Here are some key points about the palm tree root system.

Fibrous roots:

Palm trees have fibrous roots. Fibrous is a type of root that comes directly from the tree’s trunk and does not have a tap root. The roots do not have many branches like other tree roots.

Non-invasive:

Palm roots are non-invasive and do not tend to mess up with any hard object. So as long as any object has a minimum distance from the palm trees, the roots will not cause any problem.

Swallow roots:

Palm roots do not go too deep and too broad. The tree can grow long roots if it needs to reach a water source.

How big are Palm tree roots?

Palm tree roots do not grow too big, wide, or deep usually. Most of the mature roots are about the same thickness. The total root system grows almost like the top branches of the tree. 

Most of the roots stay in the upper part of the ground and can spread a few feet around the tree. The roots also do not go deeper than 36 inches.

Are Palm tree Roots Invasive?

Palm trees are not invasive and do not cause any issues to the structures. But if there is any structure within their root system range, that can negatively affect a tree’s natural growth.

Plant palm trees at least 12 feet away from any building or structure and choose smaller species for landscaping.

How far do palm tree roots spread?

Palm tree roots do not spread more than a few feet if they get everything they need within their root system range. But if the soil is low in nutrients or moisture, palm trees can grow longer roots to find water and nutrient sources. Most palm trees are drought resistant.

Can Palm tree roots damage foundation or pipes?

Palm tree roots are not thick, hard and strong enough to damage concrete foundations or pipes. But sometimes, they can deal damage to walkways and driveways.

However, if a concrete foundation or pipe has cracked and water is leaking, a palm tree can cause damage to them. But palm trees do not have any interest in penetrating a hard surface. They can grow roots on the other side with a lot less effort.

Do Palm tree spread or multiply?

Palm trees spread and multiply with seeds but do not grow new plants with roots. There are over 2500 species of palm trees. Some may have unique characteristics, such as some palm trees can grow new branches from the trunk occasionally. 

But common palm trees use seeds to grow new trees.

Final Thoughts

Palm trees are not invasive as they have a small but tight root system. The roots do not grow too broad and are not strong enough to become invasive to nearby foundations. But for the healthy growth of palm trees, one should plant them at least 12 feet away from any structure.