Common Names: European fan palm
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Drought Tolerant Can be Grown in Containers Grows Well Indoors.
Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual or Interesting Foliage
European fan palms
European fan palms form slowly expanding clumps with individual
stems that can grow (very slowly) up to 15 ft in height. Download a
large version of this Euro palm grove that graces the front plaza of
the House of Representatives on the Florida State Capital grounds in
The attractive little European fan palm has become very popular in
recent years, mostly due to its cold hardiness. Severe freezes in
the mid-eighties decimated many other more tender palm species then
being grown in central and northern Florida. Millions of dollars
worth of landscape plants were killed, creating a demand for more
cold resistant varieties that could withstand the occasional cold
snap. This small fan leafed palm fit the bill. Not only can it
resist temperatures below 20°F (-6° C) but it is fairly fast growing
and drought resistant too!
The European fan palm forms clumps than can grow up to 15 ft (4.5
m) in height. The triangular, fan shaped leaves grow to about 20-24
in (50-60 cm) long by 24 in (60 cm) wide. They are deeply divided
into multiple segments that are themselves split at the tip and they
are supported on 3-4 ft (90-120 cm) stems. This is an extremely
variable plant both in color (the leaves range from blue green to
grey green to yellow green) and in shape. Some plants form suckers
more freely than others to become very shrubby plants that may reach
15 ft (4.5 m) in width. Other individuals can be seen that are
almost dwarf growing just 5 ft (1.5 m) tall by 4 ft (1.2 m) wide.
These days it is popular to remove all but a few of the suckers and
to prune the leaves to form a cluster of clear trunked "mini" palms
Small, bright yellow flowers held close to the trunk are hidden
behind the leaf stems which are armed with very sharp teeth. The
flowers are followed in the fall by fruits which are dark yellow,
orange or brown, and about 0.5 in (1 cm) in diameter.
European fan palm
The lower leaves were trimmed from the stems of this European fan
palm to create a specimen that serves as the focal point of the
parking lot (in this case) or yard in which it is planted.
Chamaerops humilis is native to the hot dry hills and mountains of
the Mediterranean Sea basin. Its native range extends from Africa's
Atlas Mountains in Morocco to Spain and France and eastward to
The European Fan palm is very adaptable to many kinds of well
Light: European fan palm prefers bright sunny locations, but it also
does well in part shade with some direct sunlight. It will survive
in rather heavy shade but "stretches" to lose its compact shape.
Moisture: Provide adequate moisture for fastest growth. This palm is
very drought tolerant once established. It dislikes soggy soils.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8-10. European fan palm is hardy throughout
Florida. It can survive temperatures down to 10° F (-12° C). It even
survives the occasional snowfall in its native habitat!
Propagation: European fan palm is usually propagated from seed. It
can also be propagated by dividing clumps or removing suckers,
methods that require superhuman effort. I once spent a weekend
dividing a clump. The effort left me a sweaty, sore, bloody mess
(from the sharp teeth on the leaf stems!) Believe me, seeds are the
way to go! Better yet, reasonably priced specimens are readily
available from nurseries and discount stores.
European fan palm produces short infloresences in the early
spring upon which hundreds of small flowers are borne.
European fan palm seeds
These green, unripe seeds will soon ripen when they'll darken, dry
and fall from the plant.
Chamaerops humilis is as versatile as it is beautiful! With the
leaves trimmed up to show off the trunk, it makes a beautiful
specimen plant - a delightful natural sculpture to grace your patio
or entryway. Unpruned, they assume an attractive shrubby form. Use
one as a screen or plant several side by side to form a barrier.
Planted in groupings, they will accent that hard-to-garden, bare
corner of your yard.
The European fan palm is excellent in containers and urns. And
thanks to its drought resistance and durability to heat it can
thrive in harsh urban conditions. This palm is somewhat salt
resistant and may be grown near the ocean if given some protection
(behind a dune, building, etc.)
Beauty, ruggedness, versatility, cold hardiness and drought
resistance add up to make Chamaerops humilis a winner. If that isn't
enough, the European fan palm is also fairly fast growing when
supplied with adequate moisture and fertilizer.