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California Fan Palm Tree

California fan palm tree in the landscape. Mature california fan palm tree

The California Fan Palm Tree, scientific name Washingtonia filifera, is one of the most popular palms in subtropical climates because of its beautiful appearance and low maintenance.  This is a large tree that can tolerate cold down to 15F making it perfect for growing in zone 8b. This palm can be grown in states like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas.

California Fan Palm Tree Info

Scientific name: Washingtonia filifera

Common names: California Fan Palm Tree is also known as Desert Fan Palm, American Cotton palm, Arizona Fan Palm.

Family: Arecaceae.

Origin: It is native to North America.

Appearance: The California Fan Palm has a heavy grey trunk ringed with old leaf scars. When the leaves die they bend downwards and form a skirt around the trunk. The trunk is a little swollen at the base and can get up to 3ft in diameter at its widest point. Palmate, or fan-shaped, leaves emerge from the trunk forming a loose and open crown. Leaves are grey-green, about 4-6ft across with tips of fronds arching down. The leaf stems of mature palms have curved thorns. The leaflet edges have fibrous white cotton-like threads.

Flowers/Fruits: In the early summer, the California Fan Palm produces creamy flowers that hang in clusters from the crown. Flowers are small and held by stalks that extend beyond the foliage. The California Fan Palm has male and female flowers on the same inflorescent. The flowers are followed by black fleshy berry-like fruit, ½ inch in diameter with a single seed inside that mature sometime in September.

Growth Rate: Moderate. In the wild Washingtonia filifera is known to grow up to 70ft tall but in cultivation, it is usually not more than 30-40 ft tall and 5-10 ft wide.

Outdoor/Indoor Use: Both. California Fan Palm Tree can also grow in a pot.

Cold Tolerance: It is cold hardy to about 15-20 F and can tolerate frost. It also recovers pretty quickly from the damage. Great for USDA Zones 8b (15 to 20 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

Light Req: Partial shade to full sun. It likes full sun but can also grow in partial shade.

Water Req: Moderate. It can also tolerate drought but does best in moist well-drained soil. It can tolerate alkaline soil.

Maintenance: Easy. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during the growing season.

Insects and Diseases: This pest and disease-resistant palm is very easy to maintain.

Propagation: Propagated by seed.

15 Benefits And Facts About The California Fan Palm Tree


  1. Aesthetic Appeal: California palm trees instantly enhance the beauty of any landscape with their distinctive shape and tropical vibe.

  2. Shade Provider: These trees offer a cooling shade, essential in protecting against the harsh California sun.

  3. Habitat: They provide shelter and food to a diverse range of wildlife.

  4. Low Maintenance: Once established, palm trees require minimal care and are resistant to pests.

  5. Drought Resistant: Being native to arid regions, they are well adapted to California's dry climate.

  6. Air Purifiers: Like all trees, they help improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

  7. Wind Resistance: Their flexible trunks can withstand strong wind conditions.

  8. Erosion Control: The extensive root system helps control soil erosion.

  9. Fruits: Some varieties produce fruits like dates.

  10. Cultural Significance: Symbol of relaxation and paradise, often associated with the laid-back California lifestyle.

  11. Privacy: When planted together, they can act as a natural privacy screen.

  12. Tall Landmarks: Their towering height makes them excellent natural landmarks.

  13. Economic Value: Palm trees are commonly used in landscaping, contributing to the economy.

  14. Noise Reduction: They can help reduce noise pollution when planted in rows.

  15. Versatility: They can be planted in a variety of soil types and conditions.

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