Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

WASHINGTONIA filifera

Image of Washingtonia filifera

James H. Schutte

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

WASHINGTONIA filifera

Plant Common Name

Cotton Palm, Desert Fan Palm, Washington Palm

General Description

Desert fan palms are sturdy, solitary and native to southern California, western Arizona and northwestern Mexico. The large, gray-green leaves are costapalmate which means they have a fish hook shape in the middle of a roundish blade, divided to the middle into many segments that bend and are split with long threads or fibers in between. The leaves are connected to the trunk with green petioles or stems and are armed with wicked green, hooked teeth, younger leaves may lack teeth. Old leaves are persistent and hang down to form dense skirts. The trunks of desert fan palms are brown, fissured and not swollen at the base. The flower stalks are very long, branched and hang down above and between the leaves. Individual flowers are white and the oval fruit is slightly wrinkled and brown-black. The desert fan palm has more fibers on the leaves and is shorter and heavier in the trunk than the Mexican fan palm, however, they do naturally hybridize and it can be difficult to identify individual specimens.

Desert fan palms are not picky about soil as long as it is well drained; too much water can lead to trunk and butt rots. They are very drought and cold tolerant once established. These palms do respond with faster growth to applications of water and fertilizer. Good uses for desert fan palms due to their size include street trees, parks and around commercial buildings. Desert fan palm is more cold hardy compared to the Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta).

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 14

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    30'-60' / 9.1m - 18.3m

  • Width

    15'-25' / 4.6m - 7.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Southwestern United States, California, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Yellow, Tan

  • Fruit Color

    Brown, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Street Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes