California Fan Palm

Washingtonia filifera

Cotton Palm, Washington Palm, Petticoat Palm

About This Plant

Sun. Evergreen, with a stout, barrel-shaped trunk that immediately sets it apart from the taller, thinner Mexican fan palm. The leaves have peeling fibers, or “cotton,” giving the tree a wispy appearance. California fan palm is a palm of desert oases: drought-resistant, freeze-hardy, and disease resistant. The pockmarked trunks resemble Greek columns in the landscape; in San Antonio, these are prominently displayed at Alamo Stadium, the Spanish missions, and throughout historic neighborhoods.

Origins: Southwestern North America


Sharp teeth arm the leaves, making pruning a delicate business. Pruning off the skirts of dead leaves may require a professional with spikes, a belt, or a crane cab. Avoid blasting fan palm with sprinklers in winter — freeze damage may erode the wood and leave it looking pitted.

A true desert palm, and one of the easiest to grow.

Min. Height: 50'

Max Height: 70 feet'

Min. Width: 10'

Max Width: 15 feet'

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