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Common Name:

California Fan Palm or Petticoat Palm

Scientific Name:

Washingtonia filifera

Family Name:

Palmae (Arecaceae)

Description:

California Fan Palms develop slowly into medium to large size trees. Washingtonia filifera is about a half of a hardiness zone more cold hardy, has a thicker more massive trunk, and is shorter than Washingtonia robusta, but W. robusta is a much more rapid grower and is more readily available in the trade. Many plants sold as W. filifera are actually hybrids with W. robusta and may not be as cold hardy as W. filifera.

Plant Habit or Use:

Medium tree, large tree, tropical, interiorscape

Exposure:

sun

Flower Color:

White, not particularly ornamental but mildly interesting

Blooming Period:

Spring, summer

Fruit Characteristics:

Small blue-black to black brown berry-like fruits

Height:

40 ft to 50 ft, 80 ft possible in California

Width:

10 ft to 15 ft crown, 2 ft diameter trunk

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Medium Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Medium Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Medium Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Medium Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Medium Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

7.00
Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

8, 9, 10, 11

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Probably a better long term investment in the landscape than W. robusta, but more expensive and harder to obtain in large sizes. Spines on leaf margins are major maintenance hazards. If skirt of fronds is retained, it may be a nesting spot for rodents.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.