With its gracefully drooping leaf tips and hula skirt of dried fronds, the Mexican fan palm is the dancing girl of the Arecacea family.
Perhaps the Amazonian dancing girl would be a more accurate description as Washingtonia robusta can grow to 100 feet.
A note of caution is in order here. The hula skirt of dead leaves that give Washingtonias their unique charm is a fire hazard. The expired leaves also provide rats and other undesirables a safe haven.
Some municipalities (mostly in arid regions where the fire risk is more serious) require that the skirts be removed which becomes more expensive as the tree grows.
In humid Florida, there is no such requirement, but you might want to have it done anyway as loose palm fronds can become projectiles in a hurricane.
Another note of caution: Florida is the lightening capital of the world.
The tallest tree is the one that tends to get struck. Consequently, Mexican fan palms rarely grow to their ultimate height in this state. Despite this, they are popular landscape plants here.
Washingtonia robusta typically blooms in early summer. When the little white flowers mature into black berries the seed inside will be ripe. Mexican fan palm seeds germinate more easily than those of most other palms.
This tree will tolerate poor dry soil but will grow more robustly in composted soil that is kept moist. It prefers sun but will tolerate high shade. It is known to be cold hardy to 20 degrees F.
This group of Mexican Fans planted at the entrance to a Central Florida subdivision is perfectly placed.
Washingtonia robusta looks best in groups of 3 or more. Its mature height makes it an unsuitable landscaping tree for small homes and yards.
This same feature makes it perfect for commercial landscape design or for larger residential landscaping projects.
The young Mexican Fan in the image below is unusual in that its trunk is clean of boots.
When young, this palm's large fronds add lush greenery and movement to the landscape
as they sway on every breeze.
The Slow-growing Chinese Fan Palm: a Waterfall of Foliage
California Fan Palm, the Washingtonia of Choice for Dry Climates
The Fast-growing Queen Palm Tree
The Coontie Palm, an Unusual Florida Native
Go Back to the Best Palms for Florida
List of Cold Hardy Palm Trees
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