Mediterranean Fan Palms
European Fan Palm

Chamaerops humilis

Mediterranean fan palms (a.k.a. European fan palms) are some of the most variable palm trees in cultivation. There are single trunk and clumping forms of Chamaerops humilis, tall and dwarf varieties and different leaf colors.

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Mediterranean fan palm.

Tall varieties can slowly reach a height of 15 feet while dwarf forms will top out at 5 or 6 feet.

The suckers that form at the base of clumping varieties can cause the clump to spread to a width of 15 feet as well.

You can keep a cluster as small as you want it to be by removing the excess suckers. You can also prune away many of the leaves to expose as more of the pretty brown trunk.

Unpruned, it makes an attractive shrub that can be used as a privacy screen.

Mounding Mediterranean fan palms. Some of the clumping variants are more dense than others and make beautifully rounded shrubs.

'Green Mound' is 1 such plant.

Picture of a sparse clumping form of <i>C. humilis</i>.

Sparse clumping forms, like the 1 in the picture above, look best when trimmed so that their trunks are exposed.

Sparse clumping Mediterranean fan palms. Chamaerops humilis is both drought resistant and cold hardy to 10 degrees F.

It is somewhat salt tolerant and can be planted near the water in a protected spot.

Image of Mediterranean fan palm fronds. You can see the triangle shape of the leaf in this pic.

The European fan palm's triangular fans grow to 24 inches long and wide.

The grass green to blue leaves are deeply divided into many segments, each of which is split at it's tip.

Each leaf is supported by a petiole or stem which has sawtooth edges.

The thorny petioles of the Mediterranean fan palm.

These petioles can range from 1-4 feet in length depending on the variety.

In spring and summer small, bright yellow flowers emerge from among the leaves which mature into orange or brown fruits in the fall.

<i>Chamaerops humilis</i> flower buds.

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C. humilis is native to the hot, dry Mediterranean Sea basin. This explains it's drought resistance and love of sunlight. It can be planted in the shade, but will grow more compactly in full sun.

Mediterranean fan palms look dramatic in containers and are rugged enough to do well in an urban environment.

Propagate by seed or by digging up a sucker. I warn you: they are not easy to uproot. Seed is the easier option.

Mediterranean Fan Palms in the Landscape

European fan palm variants.

These plants were ordered and installed at the same time but notice how the crowns differ from one another. This is due to the variability within the species.

If you order several plants, expect that they may not be exact clones of one another.

Picture of Mediterranean fan palms planted too close to a wall.

These plants have been installed a bit too close to the wall. This is why some are leaning forward. The roof overhang casts about a foot of shade along the side of the building. The trees are reaching toward the sun.

It these palms had been planted just 6 inches further forward, this might have been avoided. They would also receive more natural rainfall.

Young European fan palms planted beneath mature sabals.

These young European fan palm trees have been installed beneath mature sabal palms.

Chamaerops humilis is not a shade-loving palm but I have no doubt that it will thrive in this location.

This planting is situated in full sun in Central Florida.

The high shade cast by the much taller sabals will not be nearly dense enough to hinder the growth of the European fans.

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Mediterranan fan palm picture.

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Resources:

In writing this article I relied heavily upon Palms Throughout the World by David L. Jones for information on C. humilis variants.

This is a book that any serious palm tree collector should have on her shelf. It is chock full of color photos which have helped me to identify many species.

Other Types of Fan Palms:

The Weeping Chinese Fan Palm

The Hula-Skirted Mexican Fan Palm

The Bearded Old Man Palm

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