Plant Profile: Chamaerops humilis - Mediterranean Fan Palm


Here you can see some fine clumps of mature Chamaerops humilis in Rome. 
Some tall Washingtonia and Phoenix palms can be see rising up behind them. 
Origin: Europe

Height: 6 metres.

Requirements: Full sun. Good drainage.

This lovely palm is grown widely throughout the Mediterranean. Immature specimens can be easily mistaken for small Trachycarpus (Chusan) palms. However, mature Chamaerops are easily distinguished from these since they are smaller, bushier plants which often form great bristling mounds of fan-shaped leaves. In fact, Chamaerops palms are highly variable in form. They frequently produce several trunks which may be short and straight, long and thin or hidden altogether by the leaves.

The leaf appearance is equally variable. They may have long, delicate spokes or short, stiff leaves. Some are bright yellow-green others are dark, olive green. Some are even appear to have a thin, silvery fringe. All of them, however, are beautiful plants.

In cultivation, Mediterranean Fan Palms rarely grow higher than about 2 or 3 metres. It likes a sunny, well drained spot and is fairly tolerant of wind and sea air. Best of all, it is very cold hardy and can survive several degrees of frost even as a young plant. Juvenile and adult plants (of say 1 metre or so in height) can normally shrug off temperatures down to -10C or lower.

Note: This plant is not to be confused with Chamaerops excelsa! The plant which is labelled Chamaerops excelsa in some garden centres is not actually a Chamaerops palm at all. There is only one species of Chamaerops - and that's Chamaerops humilis. Plants labelled Chamaerops excelsa are, in fact, just Trachycarpus fortunei by a different (and incorrect) name!

Information and photos on this page are
courtesy and copyright Huw Collingbourne
Rosedown Mill Palms & Exotics

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