The Plant List

california fan palm
Washingtonia filifera

Common: California fan palm, Desert fan palm, American cotton palm, Washington palm
Family: Arecaceae (Palmae)
Habitat: Desert riparian washes. Larger canyons can often focus substantial rainfall runoff into palm oases. In native stands in Southwest deserts, always grows near springs or other moist spots. Southeastern California, western Arizona, Nevada, Baja California Mexico.
Light: Full sun
Water: Withstand aridity, but thrive on moisture
Temperature: Hardy to around 18 degrees F

Street or parkway plantings. Use in large gardens as single trees or in groups. Tropical effect.

Fast grower to 60 feet high and 15 feet wide. Long stalked leaves stand well apart in open crown. Trunk is more robust than that of its Mexican cousin. As leaves mature, they bend down to form a petticoat of thatch that develops in straight lines, taping inward toward the trunk. Only palm native to California.

Fan palms are relics of a wetter past in the Pleistocene geological epoch, and are now restricted to isolated desert oases and desert riparian habitats.

It is important both for nesting birds and those that need resting spots and roosts on their fall or spring migrations through the desert.

Copyright 2004-2007