Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: European Fan Palm, Mediterranean Fan Palm
Chamaerops humilis

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Chamaerops (kam-AY-rops) (Info)
Species: humilis (HEW-mil-is) (Info)

Synonym:Chamaerops humilis var. elegans

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

20 members have or want this plant for trade.

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6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

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

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

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest

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:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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7 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral jac828 On Mar 16, 2014, jac828 from Blowing Rock, NC wrote:

Beautiful plant but not a good choice for western North Carolina. Brought it inside the first winter and it lived but grew poorly in the following summer. Decided to try leaving it outside this winter thinking maybe the extra sun would help but instead it died.

Positive UtahTropics12 On May 5, 2013, UtahTropics12 from Orem, UT wrote:

This plant Is a lot hardier than stated above! I'm in zone 6b and this winter we had the hardest freeze we have had in a while and it got down to -7 degrees! And the leaves were Barely burned! I couldn't believe it! It's doing so great! And is producing tons of sucors!

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

Ive been growing some of these palms for a few years now here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7) Although they seem to always survive, they typically have MAJOR leaf damage and I often loose the spear too. Because this is a muli-trunking palm, it seems to slowly be creeping across the yard to the southeast after each winter when the northwestern suckers die off and the others live. They seem to recover from winter faster than almost any other palm I have tried. They really need to be dry during the winter months, which is a hard thing to accomplish in the east coast. The Silver/blue variation of the Med. Fan palm has shown a better cold tolerance than the green version in my experience here in Maryland. These palms are probably more cold hardy in areas with a drier climate, similar to thier native range around the mediterranean.

Positive donnacreation On Mar 22, 2012, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This palm grows well in the SC midlands, but it must planted in well drained soil. Mine stay green year round, and several are blooming at this time.

Positive hoitider On Jan 13, 2012, hoitider from Emerald Isle, NC wrote:

Bought five of these plants from home depo were about 5 ft tall multiply trunks, planted two in new bern n c on the trent river in 2009,still living but have not grown much ,planted three on the barier island emerald isle n c ,that are still living nice and bushy but only 4bft tall,since i love palms iam happy to have it,since it does winter over in zone 8

Neutral SuburbanNinja80 On Jan 5, 2012, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I question my sanity for buying this palm. Don't get me wrong, I love this palm. I have mixed feeling about it, beautiful palm but with a bad attitude.

The more I look at Photos of this palm the More am sacred of it. And it didn't help when talking to the person that shipping to telling me it stabbed her 3 times.

Neutral NorthSC On Jun 12, 2011, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

They grow fine here in the mid SC, but they brown a lot, sometimes almost complete browning of most of the foliage on some specimens. They grow back again during the warm part of the year, but what bugs me is that they become brown in winter a lot, except very large specimen that I got which becomes brown only maybe10-20%.

Positive peejay12 On Apr 25, 2010, peejay12 from Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

This palm is very successful in the southern parts of the UK.

Generally, palms are rarely planted in the UK, perhaps because large ones are very expensive and slow growing.The three most popular --Trachycarpus fortunei and wagnerianus, and C. humilis -are gaining in popularity now, but C. humilis is extremely expensive and even slower-growing than the other two, although it does produce a lot of leaves.

I like its vigorous clustering way of growing - what it lacks in height it makes up for in width. My plants have produced about seven daughter plants each. It's easy to distinguish it from T. wagnerianus by the thorns on its leaf stems. These can be a real problem when trying to thin out the leaves. If you do thin out the leaves you will get a whole thicket of plants -- very impressive.

When buying a plant look carefully at the form of the leaves - some have perfectly formed flat leaves, others have slightly bunched-up distorted leaves - they vary a lot in size and shape - and the number of thorns on the leaf stems ! Buy the biggest plants you can afford, unless you want to wait five years for them to make any impact at all. They are slow growing in cool summer regions - about 6" per year.

I have four plants growing in ordinary soil, and they have probably grown little more than 24 inches in seven years - perhaps they have now reached their maximum height for these conditions (80 inches). They produce four or five small panicles of flowers, more after a cold winter, and they have produced a number of viable seed.

In U.K conditions the leaves can be damaged by long frosts of -8C and below, which cause brown spots on the leaves to appear months afterwards. In UK conditions I would guess their limit is around -12C, unless grown in extremely well-drained soil.

They are particularly well-suited for smaller gardens where most palms would look too large. A wonderful plant.

Neutral 1cros3nails4gvn On Feb 2, 2007, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

the european fan palm is very coomonly used as a shrub palm and for median plantings along the parkways not very common to see one that is taller than 8 feet because they are all quite young. they seem to not mind the swampiness of the deep south, or the wet winters that we have, or the almost flooding rains left from tropical storms and hurricanes. it seems to me that all of the different palms have a different growth rate, even if they are all in the same species. it is not unusual to see them varying in a matter of feet when they are planted in masses all at the same size and at the same time.

Positive palmbob On Dec 5, 2005, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is one of the most commonly seen landscape palms in southern California, and is popular all over California, Texas and some of the eastern states as well. It is one of the most cold hardy palms and the only palm originating from Europe (the Mediterranean countries). As a landscape palm it is nearly unparalleled- it grows multiple stalks (suckering palm, though solitary cultivars are known) but usually they grow at different rates so there is usually 1-2 central taller trunks and shorter ones surrounding it. It continues to sucker profusely so most growers will begin to cut them away once the palm is established or else it becomes an impossible to manage mass of incredibly spiny, dangerous leaves and stems. Once the lower leaves are trimmed off, the exposed trunk is covered in a thick matting of fiber that itself is ornamental. Careful when trimming this palm! The petioles are visciously armed. It is not picky about soil growing in sandy soil to clay soil (prefers the latter), is drought and wind tolerant, and grows in sun or shade (though shaded palms tend to become sort of lanky and stretched and a bit less healthy in the long run). It grows well in the desert as well as right on the coast.

Though this is a dioicus palm (separate male and female plants) some plants seem to develop different sexed flowers on different stems on the same palm and sort of become self fertile. But in southern California there are plenty of successful pollinators and plants are common, so fertile seed is not that unusual.

It is a slow growing palm so large specimens are very expensive (sometimes thousands of dollars)... but fortunately it is an easy species to move and rarely even sets back. It is so drought tolerant that cutting leaves off when moving the palm is usually unnecessary.

There are several interesting and beautiful cultivars of this species, but they are covered under separate listings.

Positive kirby6706 On Mar 20, 2005, kirby6706 from Victoria, B.C
Canada wrote:

Have 3 of them in Victoria, B.C Canada...they winter very well here..but tend to be slow growing...all three are growing on the south side of the house in a sheltered location.

Positive Mogheller On Jan 27, 2005, Mogheller from Berlin
Germany wrote:

slow growing, but very "ornamentical" ... down to -12C without greater problems in winter, but MUST be DRY in this time or the roots can die!


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

Decatur, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Camp Verde, Arizona
Chandler, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Queen Creek, Arizona
Surprise, Arizona
Beverly Hills, California
Bostonia, California
Canoga Park, California
Clayton, California
Encino, California
Fairfield, California
Lake Elsinore, California
Martinez, California
Oceanside, California
Rancho Mirage, California
Reseda, California
Roseville, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Barbara, California
Spring Valley, California
Stockton, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Union City, California
Auburndale, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Hampton, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Niceville, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
Douglasville, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Carmel, Indiana
Ledbetter, Kentucky
Vacherie, Louisiana
Centreville, Maryland
Las Vegas, Nevada
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Sunset Beach, North Carolina
Edmond, Oklahoma
Ashland, Oregon
Beaufort, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Irmo, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Mayesville, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
North, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Brownsville, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas
Rockport, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Orem, Utah
Des Moines, Washington
Kent, Washington
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)
Shoreline, Washington
White Center, Washington

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