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Mediterranean Fan Palm

The Mediterranean fan palm is a gorgeous specimen, usually of the clumping variety. Occasionally it will have a solitary trunk but that doesn’t take anything away from its beauty.

As you can probably guess it is native to the Mediterranean.

Actually it is the only palm that is native to Europe. That explains the other name it goes by: European Fan Palm

Many countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Morocco and France are home to this species.

It likes the rocky hills there and the foothills of North Africa.  

Mediterranean or European fan palm treeMediterranean or European fan palm tree

CC   Original Photo by:  Author MPF  

It is the only palm that grows that far north naturally. All others have been imported to grow further north.

Appearance

There are a few different looks to the Mediterranean fan palm. The reasons:

1.       It has been cultivated so the tree has changed a bit. There are two varieties that go by the same name but don’t have, or have less spines at the leaf base.

2.        The appearance varies depending on where it is native. The ones from North Africa have a slightly different color of leaf.

Chamaerops Humilis, Huntington Library Palm Garden May 2009

Natives from the southwest part of Europe have green leaves and the ones native to northern Africa have bluish, greenish, gray color.

They all have deeply divided semi circular fan leaves with very tough spines or needles at the leaf bases.

This protects them from animals that may want to graze on them.

The trunks are covered with old leaf sheaths and a brown mat of fibrous material.

You should consider them a multi trunk, clumping variety if you decide to buy one. It is rare however that there will be a single trunk specimen.

The male and female flowers are on different trees requiring some help from Mother Nature to pollinate. They will get a small fruit on them that will turn from green to yellowish to brown when ripe.

They are considered a medium sized palm tree in height that can get to be up to 20 feet tall in nature.

If allowed they can get quite wide, 20 feet or more. These trees are often cultivated and sold for landscapes and house plants when young.

Quick info: Scientific name    Chamaerops humilis

  • 6-20 feet tall, 6-25 feet wide in nature, mostly multi trunks
  • Minimum temp 16°F   zones 8-11
  • Slow growth, any well drained soil
  • Cold and drought tolerant, thrives in a drier climate
European Fan Palm Tree - Medium
margalló - palmito europeo - Chamaerops humilis

Growth of the Mediterranean Fan Palm

The Mediterranean fan palm is a very hardy tree.

Growing in tough rocky soil isn’t an issue because of where it comes from.

Any soil as long as it drains well will do.

It will adapt itself to many different climates but will do better in a more arid dry climate than a moist, humid one.

It is very cold tolerant... more so in the drier climate where it’s from than a wetter one.

It also has moderate salt tolerance and is a slower growing palm.

If you want to keep it a certain size you’ll have no trouble keeping up pruning off the extra trunks.

Keeping it somewhat thinned out will give it a better overall appearance.

I love the looks of the Mediterranean fan palm, especially when you have a small clump of around 5 or more displaying at different heights.

They have such a nice shape even when growing in the wild. Why not consider adding this beauty to your outdoors?

Mediterranean or European fan palm treeMediterranean or European fan palm tree

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