Friday, December 30, 2011

Meditteranean Fan Palm

Chamaerops humilis

The one and only species in the Chamaerops family; this moderate growing Palm is native to the Meditteranean Region of Europe and the north coast of Africa ( especially the Atlas Mountains ). It's a survivor of the evergreen laurel forest that covered much of Europe before getting wiped out by the ice ages of the last few million years. Usually shrubby in the wild they may become trees in cultivation however still usually multi stemmed. Such trunks may reach up to 33 feet in height with a diameter of 0.7 feet. The largest of this species was 40 feet in height recorded in Spain in 1836. Clumps of Fan Palm may be up to 20 feet across.
The leaves are fan shaped and up to 3.3 feet across. They are borne on leafstalks up to 52 inches long. The leaves are grayish-green though some very attractive blue forms exist.
The dull orange date like fruits are up to 1.8 inches wide.
They grow best in well drained soil in full sun. Old dried fronds can be a fire hazard and should be cut off however not to close as to cause damage to the main trunk.
Hardy from zone 7 to 10 it is known to tolerate 0 F on sheltered sites. One tree is reported to survive - 7 F though just barely. Seed source from 6500 feet in the Atlas Mountains of northern Morocco may be more cold hardy than average.

* photo taken on Jan 3 2011 @ Deerfield Beach Arboretum, Florida

* photo taken on Aug 15 2014 @ Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD

* photo taken on May 18 2015 in Columbia, MD

* historical archive photos

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