Of all monocotyledons the Arecaceae displays by far the richest fossil record, and there is an extensive literature. The earliest unequivocal fossil palm material probably dates from the early to mid Late Cretaceous (Turonian > Coniacian > Santonian). The records are geographically widespread and comprise a wide range of organs: leaves, cuticles, stems, rhizomes, roots, fruits, seeds, endocarps, rachillae, peduncles, inflorescences, individual flowers and pollen. For some of these organs records are rare while for others, such as leaves, stems and pollen, records are abundant. However, fossil material often lacks sufficient diagnostic detail to allow reasonable association with living palm taxa beyond, or even to, subfamilial level. Nevertheless, many fossil genera and numerous species have been described. A brief survey of palm fossil records is presented, and their taxonomy and morphological limitations are considered. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 151, 39–67.