California Fan Palm Trees (Washingtonia filifera) - cold hardy , adapt to most soils, are easy to grow and transplant, and are very cold hardy. The California Fan Palm tree species name filifera, comes from both Latin and Greek words meaning thread-bearing. California Fan Palm Tree Pictures and other types of Palm Tree species and specimens can be viewed in the Palm Tree Pictures section.

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California Fan Palms - Cold Hardy Palm Trees

(Washingtonia filifera)

California Fan palm trees are Cold Hardy to around 15 degrees (lower depending on the age and growth of the cold hardy palm tree). California Fan palm trees are fast growers and drought and salt resistant. The genus was named in honor of George Washington. The following is detailed information on the cold hardy California Fan palm.


California Fan Palm Trees (Washingtonia filifera)

California Fan Palm Mature

The Cold hardy California Fan Palm Tree:

  • Can grow up to 60' with a crown spread of 15'
  • Can have up to thirty gray-green palmate (fan-shaped) leaves, each 3-6' across
  • Have leaves that spread out to form a loose and open crown
  • Young Washington Palms need plenty of sun
  • Palm will tolerate soils and drought
  • Have a moderate growth rate

California Fan Palm Overview

Stately and distinctive, the California Fan Palm tree is one of the most widely grown palms in subtropical climates. The California Fan palms massive gray trunks are barrel shaped and ringed with old leaf scars, and may reach over 3' in diameter at the Palms widest point. The petioles (leaf stems) of mature palms are armed along the margins with curved thorns; those of young palms are largely unarmed. The individual leaflets are pendulous and swing freely in the wind. Abundant cotton-like threads on and between the leaflets persist even when the California Palm tree is mature. If old leaves are not removed, they form a continuous "petticoat" from the crown all the way to the ground. The California Fan Palm tree produces numerous branching flower clusters that project out and often downward from the leaf crown. The bisexual blossoms are white and yellow and give rise to oblong or round red-black fruit, each about a half inch in diameter. The fruits of California Fan Palm trees contain a single seed, approximately 1/4" in diameter.

California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) Information

Scientific name: Washingtonia filifera
Pronunciation: wosh-ing-TOE-nee-uh fill-LIFF-er-uh
Common name(s): Desert Palm, California Washingtonia Palm
Family: Arecaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 8+
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: street without sidewalk; tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide
Availability: not native to North America

California Fan Palm Description

Height: 40 to 60 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: palm, upright/erect
Crown density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: coarse

California Fan Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: costapalmate
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: star-shaped
Leaf venation: palmate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length: more than 36 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

California Fan Palm Tree Flower

Flower color: yellow, white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: not showy

The Palm Fruit

Fruit shape: oval, round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: black
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

California Fan Palm Trees Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: not applicable
Current year twig thickness:
Wood specific gravity: unknown

California Fan Palms Culture

Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; alkaline; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases


California Fan Palm Tree Use and Management

The lower leaves persist on the tree after they die, forming a dense, brown, shaggy covering below the living, grey/green, broad, fan-shaped leaves, giving it the common name of Petticoat Palm. These dead fronds are known to be a fire hazard and a popular bedding roost for rodents and, because of this, must be removed by law in some areas.

Plant this palm only on soil which is extremely well-drained to prevent trunk or root rot. Moderate salt tolerance allows it to be used close to the coast in several of the southern states. This palm could be tried more in well-drained sites as a replacement for Washingtonia robusta which grows very tall with a skinny trunk. But over-irrigation and rainy weather could initiate root rot. Washingtonia filifera is shorter, has a thicker trunk, and is better suited for planting in dry urban landscapes, such as in Texas, Arizona and California. They reportedly suffer and often die from root rot when irrigated. Select Washingtonia robusta in an irrigated landscape and for the eastern U.S.

Propagation is by seed.

California Palms Pests


Scales while young, palm weevil in old age, palm leaf skeletonizer and a variety of scales at any time can infest this palm.


California Palm Tree Disease

Trunk or root rot in wet soils may infect this tree.

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California Fan Palm Trees - Cold Hardy Palms

Picture of tall and thin California Palms

California Fan Palm Tree picture

Other Cold Hardy Palms you might be interested in:

Cold Hardy Palm Trees

True Date Palms (Phoenix dactylifera) 

Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) 

Texas Sabal Palms

(Sabal mexicana) 

Mediterranean Fan Palms (Chamaerops humilis)

California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera)

Windmill Palms
(Trachycarpus fortunei) 

Pindo Palms

(Butia capitata)  

Sago Palms

(Cycas revoluta) 

Mexican Fan Palms (Washingtonia robusta)

Queen Palm
(Syagrus romanzoffiana)

Date Palm
(Phoenix dactylifera)

A row of young California Fan Palms

Two California Fan Palms with hanging Fronds

California Fan Palm Tree

Sun Palm Trees

Pictures of Palm Trees

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