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Washingtonia filifera - (Linden. ex André.)H.Wendl.

Common Name Desert Fan Palm, California fan palm, California Washingtonia Palm, Petticoat Palm, Desert Fan Pal
Family Arecaceae or Palmae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Often forming extensive groves or small isolated clumps in moist alkaline spots in rocky canyons about seeps, springs and streams below 1500 metres[71, 82, 166].
Range South-western N. America - S. California, S.W. Arizona, N.W. Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Washingtonia filifera Desert Fan Palm, California fan palm,  California Washingtonia Palm, Petticoat Palm,  Desert Fan Pal

Washingtonia filifera Desert Fan Palm, California fan palm,  California Washingtonia Palm, Petticoat Palm,  Desert Fan Pal


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Bloom Color: White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Palm, Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Washingtonia filifera is an evergreen Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from November to January. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Brahea filamentosa. Brahea filifera. Livistona filamentosa. Neowashingtonia filamentosa. Neowashingt

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked or dried for later use[2, 46, 161, 177, 257]. It can be made into jellies and drinks or dried and ground into a meal[46, 183]. The seed can be ground up with the dried fruit and then both are eaten as a porridge[246]. The fruit is small and hard[213], but has a thin sweet pulp that tastes somewhat like dates[183, 213]. The ovoid fruit is about 6mm long and 4mm wide[200]. Young central bud - roasted[46, 177, 183]. Harvesting this central bud will kill the tree since it is unable to make side branches[K]. Young leaf bases - raw or cooked[161, 177]. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a powder and used for making bread or porridge[161, 183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fibre  Musical  Weaving

A fibre from the leaves is used in basket making and for cordage[46, 169]. The whole leaves are woven and used as the side walls and roofs of huts and temporary dwellings[46, 257]. The seeds have been used as the rattle in gourd rattles[257]. Wood - light and soft[82]. It has been used for making cooking implements, spoons etc[257].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Container, Pest tolerant, Specimen, Street tree. Requires a sheltered sunny position in a fertile moist but well-drained soil[188, 231]. Tolerates some salt in the soil[200] and maritime exposure in climates that are warmer than Britain[200]. Plants can tolerate extensive droughts so long as their roots have tapped into underground water supplies[231]. Plants can tolerate light frosts and should succeed outdoors in the mildest parts of Britain[166]. They have been known to tolerate short-lived lows down to about -10°c[231]. This species has an extensive and fleshy but strong root system that can penetrate to a considerable depth in search of water[231]. It generally establishes best when planted out at a young stage. However, older plants are substantially more cold tolerant than juvenile plants[231]. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection, and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates[231]. Palms can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and/or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced. It is important to stake the plant very firmly to prevent rock, and also to give it plenty of water until re-established - removing many of the leaves can also help[231]. Plants growing in the wild are seen as an indication of underground water[200]. Plants produce a 'skirt' of old dead leaves, this can be a fire hazard and the old leaves are usually removed when being grown in areas liable to forest fires[200]. A fast growing tree, even when young, in its native environment and very tolerant of transplanting despite its deep root system[200]. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Pre-soaking for 24 hours in warm water may speed up germination, especially of stored seed[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from the cold for at least their first two winters outdoors.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Linden. ex André.)H.Wendl.

Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Paul   Thu Nov 18 10:23:46 2004

Link: Easy Tropicals Easy Tropicals is a nursery specialising in exciting tropical plants and seeds from around the world.

Greg Smith   Thu Sep 27 2007

The washingtonia filifera Desert Fan Palms are being cut down by the USFW in an effort to save an endangered fish called the Dace. They claim that this Palm is an invasive - non-native species to the warm springs. In his research, Mr. William Spencer has proven and discounted all claims made by the USFW Service to be inaccurate and misleading to the public. This Species of Palm is in FACT a native to the warm springs in this area. His web site provides a short story and reporting on his research. All inquiries and feedback are welcome.

The Removal Of Wild Palms In Moapa/Warm Springs Nevada

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