Palm trees are not native to Los Angeles.
Source: Original photo by Viviana Rishe/ Unsplash
Next Fact

Palm trees are not native to Los Angeles.

There are an estimated 75,000 palm trees in Los Angeles, all of which have one thing in common: They aren’t native there. Despite being an L.A. icon on par with the Hollywood sign and Dodger Stadium, the tropical tree is no more a native Angeleno than, well, the Dodgers. Not unlike the Hollywood sign, palms were originally a marketing technique for developers hoping to attract newcomers to the area in the late 19th century. They got the idea from the French Riviera — another area palms aren’t actually native to — where like-minded developers had successfully used them just a few decades before to cultivate an image of glitz and glamour. In addition to being beautiful, palms are surprisingly easy to uproot and transport from their native tropical and sub-tropical environments in the Middle East, Mexico, and elsewhere, so tens of thousands of them were planted all across the California city that had once been desert scrubland.

All palm trees grow edible fruit.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
Many a coconut has fallen from a palm tree onto an idyllic beach, but not every fruit produced by them is meant to be eaten. Dates, açaí, and other treats grow on various palm species, but so do some toxic fruits and seeds.

It seems fitting that one of Los Angeles’ most enduring symbols was essentially a branding strategy chosen for its aesthetic appeal, doubly so because palm trees’ association with the city was (and is) further cemented by their ubiquity in the many films shot there. After all, most of the directors, actors, and studio executives who made Hollywood what it is today weren’t originally from the City of Angels either.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Species of palm tree
2,500
Species of palm tree native to California (the California fan palm)
1
Height (in feet) the Quindio wax palm can reach
200
Award won by “Palm Trees and Power Lines” at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival
1
The world’s largest seed comes from the _______ palm tree.
The world’s largest seed comes from the coco de mer palm tree.
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Think Twice
Palm trees were a symbol of victory in ancient Rome.

Romans who emerged victorious in battle or athletic contests didn't just receive the admiration of their peers — they also received palm branches, which were a symbol of victory and triumph in the Roman Empire. So close was the association that the Latin word palma was nearly synonymous with victory, and generals would wear a special toga known as the tunica palmata after successful campaigns. The garment, which had a purple background embroidered with gold thread, was loaned to the generals for special ceremonies and was later worn exclusively by the emperor.

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