Are There Palm Trees in Scotland?

Scotland is famous for lots of things: haggis, Highland cows, endless great road trips, strange unintelligible accents, and many more things.

But it’s also home to some strange and unexpected stuff: ever heard the rumors that Scotland has some home-grown palm trees?

So are there palm trees in Scotland? What are they doing there? How do they grow in such a seemingly-unsuitable country? And how many hypothetical questions can we squeeze out of such a simple topic?

In this guide, we’ve covered it all. Read on!

Are There Palm Trees in Scotland?

The surprising answer to that question is a big fat yes. Most people find this difficult to believe, but yeah, Scotland is the proud owner of some home-grown palm trees.

That said, they’re not found in the entirety of the nation. Instead, they only exist in a few small unusual pockets of the place.

Natural palm trees in Port Bannatyne pier on the Isle of Bute, Scotland
Natural palm trees in Port Bannatyne pier on the Isle of Bute

Where Can I Find Palm Trees in Scotland?

The vast majority of Scotland’s palm trees are on the nation’s southwest coast, both on and off the mainland.

These leafy boys are able to grow because of the Gulf Stream, a strong ocean current shuttling water from the tip of Florida all the way to Europe. Because this Gulf Stream originates west of the UK and moves in an easterly direction, it hits the western and southern coastlines of the region.

And because of that, you can find palm trees in some small parts of Scotland. They’re pretty common on the island of Arran, and in several mainland spots including Plockton, Largs, and Stranraer.

Naturally Grown Palm Trees in Front of Goat Fell Mountain on the Isle of Arran
Naturally grown palm trees in front of Goat Fell Mountain on the Isle of Arran

But you’ll find most of Scotland’s palm trees in the Rhinns of Galloway, a narrow little peninsula close to Arran, in the very southwest of the nation. Logan Botanic Garden (one of the best botanical gardens in the UK) is part of the region, and it has loads of palm trees and other unusual trees and plants. On this bizarre peninsula, people even have palm trees growing in their gardens.

But this weird phenomenon isn’t just confined to Scotland.

You can also find palm trees in other parts of the UK with a similarly-strange microclimate. Some of the most famous include the Isle of Wight, Penzance, the Isles of Scilly, and many southern stretches of the Republic of Ireland.

There’s a famous Scottish news story you might know about a guy who managed to grow a palm tree in his Perthshire garden, close to Scotland’s east coast. But that big tree probably isn’t a natural outlier—instead, its growth was most likely caused by artificial heat blowing out of the man’s house.

What Types of Palm Trees Grow in Scotland?

There are two types of palm trees that grow in Scotland: The first is trachycarpus fortunei, a fast-growing palm that’s also known as ‘Chusan Palm.’ The second is the related (and similarly-named) trachycarpus wagnerianus, also known as ‘Dwarf Chusan Palm.’

It seems there are many more palm trees that are capable of growing in the UK—but as far as I can tell, only the above two grow naturally in the region.

In some other parts of Scotland, including Jura and Islay, you’ll also find a plant called cordyline australis (more commonly known as the ‘Cabbage Tree’). It looks like a palm tree, but it’s actually a variety of monocotyledon, like the plants that grow bananas, wheat, and some other major grains.

Cordyline Australis in Plockton Bay, Scotland
Cordyline Australis in Plockton bay, Scotland

Are There Any Other Tropical Trees in Scotland?

Well, the answer to that is… sort of.

I know that sounds like a horrendously lazy response, but here’s what I mean…

There are no other strictly tropical trees growing naturally in Scotland that I know of. But there are lots more trees in Scotland that maybe shouldn’t be there.

For example, lots of sub-tropical tree ferns are capable of growing in the nation.

Sub-tropical tree ferns are just tree ferns that usually grow north of Africa, Mexico, and Asia, but south of most of Europe (including Scotland). But despite the fact that they don’t usually grow in most of Europe, some of these sub-tropical tree ferns are indeed able to grow in Scotland—for the same reasons that those palm trees can.

Aside from these sub-tropical tree ferns, there are also some eucalyptus trees in Scotland—and they’re found in and around the same regions where you’ll see Scotland’s palm trees.

A Wild Old Eucalyptus Tree Lost Somewhere in Scotland
A wild old Eucalyptus tree lost somewhere in Scotland

Again, if you want to see as many unusual and unexpected naturally-growing trees as possible when you’re in Scotland, head to Logan Botanic Garden. The localized micro-climate here has accidentally carved out one of Scotland’s most interesting places, with a whole load of cool plants and trees.

Tree You Later!

So, there you go! Are there palm trees in Scotland? The answer to that question is yes!

If you want to know anything else about what you can and can’t find in the nation, check out our guides on why are there so few trees in Scotland, whether there are bears in Scotland, and whether there are elk in Scotland.

Also, check out our selection of the best botanical gardens in the UK as well as the biggest forests in the UK.

Thanks for reading, and see you again soon.