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California Fan Palm
Washingtonia filifera

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Washingtonia (Washing-ton-ee-a) (Info)
Species: filifera (fil-LIF-er-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Brahea filamentosa
Synonym:Neowashingtonia filamentosa
Synonym:Neowashingtonia filifera
Synonym:Pritchardia filifera
Synonym:Washingtonia filamentosa
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Palms

Height:

over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:

over 40 ft. (12 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Inconspicuous/none

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:

Evergreen

Other details:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona

Surprise, Arizona

Elk Grove, California

Fresno, California

Hayward, California

Menifee, California

Oceanside, California

Rancho Mirage, California

Redding, California

Redlands, California

San Diego, California

San Marino, California

Santa Barbara, California

Spring Valley, California

Meriden, Connecticut

Sarasota, Florida

Trenton, Florida

Brunswick, Georgia

Kurtistown, Hawaii

Chicago, Illinois

Plainfield, Indiana

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Vacherie, Louisiana

Youngsville, Louisiana

Las Vegas, Nevada

Albuquerque, New Mexico (3 reports)

Deming, New Mexico

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Massillon, Ohio

Ashland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

Beaufort, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Cayce, South Carolina

Hardeeville, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Islandton, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina

North, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Copperas Cove, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Frisco, Texas

Galveston, Texas

Houston, Texas (2 reports)

San Antonio, Texas

Saint George, Utah

Shoreline, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

5
positives
3
neutrals
2
negatives
RatingContent
Neutral

On Jun 15, 2013, Mojave_Sun from Saint George, UT wrote:

This palm is very common in and around St. George, Utah. It has adapted well to the high desert climate of this southwestern Utah city in the northern Mojave Desert. This palm has easily endured record low temps., last winter of about 12 degrees F. for a brief period 2 nights in a row, without even suffering frost damage!

Mostly low maintenance, but will require some trimming and cleaning up in spring as some fronds will brown from freezing temps.

Neutral

On Feb 7, 2013, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

It's a matter of luck growing Washingtonia filifera (California Fan Palm) in the South East of the U.S. both in the ground and in pots. They get constantly killed by too much rain even in summer. Cold does not bother them even if it is 20F and small 2 ft. plants survive outside all winter as long as temps do not go below 20F but too much rain will eventually kill most of them. Yet some survive the rain, this is why I am growing a few, to make sure that one survives and becomes rain-tolerant.

Washingtonia filifera struggles to grow in pots, often dying for unknown reasons; perhaps slight overwatering or certain deficiencies kill them most easily. Those that survive to the height of 2-3 feet are doing quite well, but even those sometimes develop some deficiencies and take a ve... read more

Positive

On Mar 30, 2012, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

I have been experimenting with these outside here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7)for a short time. I've been told that their cold tolerance is very good when they stay dry in the winter. So I have done my best to keep them dry. I had some success for two mild winters here with the palms completely defoliating but quickly recovering. They survived temperatures as low as about 14F at about 10 inches tall. Unfortunately I had to remove my palms for some new construction, so I will never know if they would have made it through the winter of 2013/14 which was the coldest here in decades.(I doubt it) I kept a few in a green house a few years back and they all died from the moisture. These palms grow so much faster than any other cold hardy palms, its a shame they have such a problem with bei... read more

Negative

On Feb 19, 2012, kinderegg from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

Although it can be pretty, this plant is a literal pain. I have shredded myself multiple times cleaning out these plants skirt. The skirt has wildlife benefits, but is a flammable nightmare. This plant is also invasive in the warmer areas of the Mojave like Moapa valley where it has displaced natives by changing the fire regime. Grows like a weed here in Las Vegas.

Positive

On Dec 6, 2011, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

Have a 15 year old specimen . A lot of older ones around town they stay rather squat here and they are the only palms left after last winter killed all the mexican fan palms . Only other palms left after winter 2010 are these ,trachys, sabals and needle palms that is .

Positive

On Oct 11, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I Just got one today. Very sweet palm, Yea it does have shark like Thorns but, its from a Desert it will have Thorns to Protect its self Less its the Mazari palm. That one has Balls of steel. Moving onto the Native Palm of coolness(if that is a word) Am Very happy about this Palm.

Well... this insanity fast growing palm i may put it in the ground where it out grows its pot. Which should be next August lest i hope so. I have ways to protect this palm. Thank god for "palms can't grow here" and other myths" book.

Positive

On May 25, 2007, lsbillj from Lake Station, IN wrote:

I live in Chicago, and have had this Palm for 15 years, and of course, bring it in the house in the winter.(Gets -10 to- 15F here!) It's been repotted 3 times over the years, but it really is only about 7 feet tall, and about as wide even after 15 years.We use a dolly to move the pot! Usually it has 6 to 7 large fans in the summer. I noticed that the leaf tips get brown when it's out in the summer. I have read that our rain is acidic, and this could be the problem. But I wonder if I over water the palm. Overall, the palm looks very healthy, and people often comment about it. Can anyone comment about over watering, or the acid problem. Thanks

Positive

On May 2, 2005, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a very commonly grown palm in California, from the coast to far inland. It is native to the more inland areas, and the more inland it is grown, the better it tends to look. Those palms grown on the coast, where they get a lot more moisture than they should, often have pinched trunks and very small, sad looking crowns. Those growing in the desert have huge, beautiful crowns and nice, thick trunks.

Commonly confused with the even more common Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta), this one can be distinguished by the thicker, nearly always straight trunk-- the crown is also larger and relatively sparser. The leaves a more sea green, as opposed to the deep green of the Mexican fan palm. The petioles are always green--no red or brown in the petioles as there always... read more

Neutral

On Apr 30, 2005, angele wrote:

Several of these are doing very well in a park across from my home. Zone 7b. These trees were brought in as huge $1,000 specimens many years ago.

Negative

On Dec 6, 2004, WalterT from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

The California Fan Palm is native to the desert canyons of the southernmost part of the state. Palm Springs, the famous desert resort town, derives it name from this tree. Said plant is very invasive here and the stems of the fronds are covered with very sharp, tough, shark-like teeth on both edges. See my image posted elsewhere of a "leaf" from one of many CFP plants that have invaded my garden from next door.