Washingtonia



Washingtonia is a genus of evergreen palms in the family Arecaceae, comprising only two species. The genus was named after George Washington (1732-1799), the first President of the United States. It is native to the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico, and are commonly cultivated in the United States, the Middle East, southern Europe, and north Africa.

Washingtonia filifera is a palm native to the desert oases of central, southern and southwestern Arizona, southern Nevada, extreme northwest Mexico of northern Baja California state, and also the inland deserts of Southern California, mainly the Colorado Desert. It is commonly known as California Fan Palm, American Cotton Palm, Desert Fan Palm, and Arizona Fan Palm, and has a life span of between 80-250 years, or more. In Latin, filifera means 'thread-bearing'.

Washingtonia filifera is a tall palm that can grow up to 25 m tall, have leaves with petioles of up to 2 m long, and a fan of leaflets 1.5-2 m long, with white, thread-like fibers between the segments. The base of the leaf stalk is spiny. The 5 m long inflorescence is made up of numerous cream-white flowers, followed by berry-like fruits. Died leaves bend downwards forming a skirt around the trunk, providing shelter for many invertebrates. Fan palms provide a habitat for Bighorn Sheep, Hooded Oriole, Gambel's Quail, Coyotes, and Dinapate wrightii (palm boring beetle) which is a pest to the palm tree. Lasiurus xanthinus, a rare bat species, is especially fond of W. filifera groves. The fan palm provides food and places to build nest for Hooded Orioles. Both Hooded Orioles and coyotes play an important part in seed distribution.

Washingtonia filifera is hardy and mainly cultivated as an ornamental tree. It grows best in warm temperate climate with dry winters and wetter summers, and is tolerant of considerable frost. It can survive temperatures of -10 C with minor damage. The leaves are used by Cahuila, a tribe of Native Americans, to make sandals, thatch roofs, and for making baskets. The stems are used to make utensils for cooking, and the fruits of the palm trees were eaten raw, cooked, or ground into flour for cakes.

Washingtonia robusta, 25 m tall, is a palm tree native to western Sonora and Baja California Sur in northwestern Mexico. It is also known as Mexican Fan Palm or Mexican Washingtonia. The leaves have one meter long petiole and a palmate fan of leaflets up to 1 m long. The leaf stalk is spiny along its entire length. The inflorescence, up to 3 m long, is made up of numerous small pale orange-pink flowers. The spherical and edible fruit is a thin-fleshed blue-black drupe, 6-8 mm diameter. Washingtonia robusta has a narrower trunk compared to Washingtonia filifera, and grows slightly faster and taller. It is less cold hardy too.

Washingtonia grows well in fertile, well-drained and in full sun. Remove skirt of persistant dead leaves regularly as they are a fire risk. Propagation is by seed in spring.

Washingtonia filiferaWashingtonia filifera
Author: Mmcknight4 (public domain)

Washingtonia filiferaWashingtonia filifera
Author: Stan Shebs (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Washingtonia filiferaWashingtonia filifera
Author: Forest & Kim Starr (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Washingtonia robustaWashingtonia robusta
Author: Kurt Stueber (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Washingtonia robustaWashingtonia robusta
Author: Geographer (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Washingtonia robusta-Spiny leaf stalkWashingtonia robusta-Spiny leaf stalk
Author: Forest & Kim Starr (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Washingtonia robusta-trunkWashingtonia robusta-trunk
Author: Forest & Kim Starr (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

A flowering Mexican Fan Palm in Chandler, AZ.A flowering Mexican Fan Palm in Chandler, AZ.
Author: Ginabovara (public domain)

Inflorescence of Washingtonia robustaInflorescence of Washingtonia robusta
Author: Mmcknight4 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Seeds of Washingtonia robustaSeeds of Washingtonia robusta
Author: Forest & Kim Starr (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

 Index of 690 Plants in The Flowering Garden





Copyright © 2008-2018 The Flowering Garden. All Rights Reserved.