But with a little more thought, I realized this does not necessarily mean there were absolutely no palm trees before this, it could be that there were a few around but this event made them really take off. And, the story only references the Palm Beach area, and not all of Florida.
I should have been more specific in my OP; there are more types of palms than the coconut palm. Right now I’m thinking that there were types of palms other than the coconut that are native to Florida, and the coconut palm was introduced in 1878.
There are many non-coconut palms that are native to Florida
such as the Sabal and Saw Palmetto. There are also alot of
imported Palms like the Royal, Canary Island Date, and Chinese Fan Palm.
As for coconuts there are also different varieties. If there is one species that’s indigenous to the area I would
guess it to the Jamican variety. After Lethal Yellowing set in during the '70s, alot of Malayn Dwarfs were introduced (resistant to LY).