Washingtonia filifera

10 Nov

Washingtonia filifera (18/10/2014, Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid)

Washingtonia filifera (18/10/2014, Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 20m

Eventual Spread: 6m

Hardiness: 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11

Family: Arecaceae

Washingtonia filifera is an evergreen, columnar, bushy palm tree. Its fronds are composed dark green leaflets arranged palmatley, divided into linear segments and up to 1.8m across, 1.8m long and with a 2m long thorny petiole. As the frond die they remain attached to the trunk and hang down. Its trunk is grey to light brown. Its cream white flowers appear as large pendulous panicles. Its red/ black fruit are spherical and up to 13mm across.

Washingtonia filifera Leaf (18/10/2014, Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid)

Washingtonia filifera Leaf (18/10/2014, Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid)

Washingtonia filifera, commonly known as Washington Palm, Desert Fan Palm, California Fan Palm or Petticoat Palm, is native to south west USA. In its native habitat it grows in desert riparian habitats.

The etymological root of the binomial name Washingtonia is named after the US President, George Washington. Filifera is derived from the Latin meaning ‘thread bearing’.

The landscape architect may find Washingtonia filifera useful as a specimen tree with an  architectural form. Once established this tree is drought tolerant. This palm can tolerate extreme heat.

Ecologically, Washingtonia filifera may provide nesting sites for birds in the dead leaves attached to the tree. Mammals and birds may eat the fruit.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Washingtonia filifera their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Washingtonia filifera Trunk (18/10/2014, Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid)

Washingtonia filifera Trunk (18/10/2014, Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid)

Washingtonia filifera prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It prefers an acid to neutral pH of soil. It dislikes wet soils.

Washingtonia filifera requires little maintenance. The dead hanging leaves may be removed to give a clean trunk to this tree.

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