Fast-growing and very tolerant, Mexican Fan Palm is a tall evergreen palm with a columnar trunk topped with a relatively small rounded crown of beautifully shaped, fan-like, rich green leaves, up to 3-5 ft. long (90-150 cm). Borne on spine-edged petioles, the palmate leaves are divided halfway to the base, with their tips slightly drooping. Unlike other palms, the dead leaves fold down against the trunk rather than dropping off, forming a dense skirt. The unbranched gray trunk is usually slender, 12 in. across (30 cm), but swells considerably at the base. It is ringed by leaf scars and tends to curve a little in tall trees. Small, slightly fragrant, white flowers are produced in huge, hanging sprays, up to 10 ft. long (3 m). They are followed by great quantities of black, pea-sized fruits. Easy to grow and exotic-looking, Washingtonia robusta is fairly hardy, but may experience significant frond damage if temperatures dip to 20°F (-6°C). It has a high tolerance for salt and is a good choice for planting near coastlines. It also is very wind resistant. Probably one of the most commonly planted palm trees around the world, the genus honors the first president of the United States. A palm of great ornamental value and an extraordinary accent plant.
- Grows with an upright habit up to 40-80 ft. tall (12-24 m) and 8-10 ft. wide (2-3 m).
- Easily grown in well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant.
- No serious disease or pest issues. Keep an eye out for red spider mites and scale insects.
- Needs no regular pruning, but dead leaves may be removed by cutting close to the leaf base leaving stubs to create a neat pattern. The 'petticoat' is a fire hazard and it is necessary to remove the dead fronds in urban settings or if the trees are planted near residences.
- Propagate by seed.
- Mexican Fan Palm has become invasive in riparian areas. In parts of central and southern California it has naturalized itself such that the California Invasive Plant Council considers its impact on native ecosystems a “moderate risk”. The species can be controlled with relative ease by removing the seedlings.
- Native to Mexico.