Mexican Fan Palm

The Mexican fan palm happens to be some of the tallest and oldest trees in the LA California area. They were introduced in the late 1800s and are close to reaching the end of their life span.

They are more popular on the coast than their close cousin, and native, the California fan palm.  The growing conditions are better suited to this variety.

As you probably figured out it is a native to Mexico, the Baja and Sonora regions more specifically.

It is now a very popular tree in the landscapes of the extreme southwestern United States, like in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Mexican Fan PalmsMexican Fan Palm Trees

CC Original photo by :Geographer


The towering Mexican fan palm has beautiful deep emerald green fan leaves that are almost circular.

They have segmented tips reaching almost halfway into the 3-4 ft across fan.

There are some reddish teeth like spines located on them leaf stem close to the trunk.

These wonderful specimens can live upwards of 150 years, and can get over 100 ft tall.

Mexican Fan Palm FlowersMexican Fan Palm Flowers

Mexican Fan Palm Tree - Medium

They have a grayish trunk where the old leaf bases have fallen off. The old leaves could take years to fall off on their own, so some of the ones in the wild will have skirts of the old leaves around the trunk.

They do get a spray of whitish color flowers on a yellowish stem which will turn into small brown to black fruits when they are ripe.

Although they get taller than their cousins their trunks are not as big around. They appear quite a bit skinner especially since the ones lining a city street will have most of the old leaf skirts removed.

Mexican Fan Palm Growth

This variety is not as cold hardy as its cousin and does better in the climates along the southern LA coastline.

They will grow in just about any type of soil as long as it is well drained.

Of course with their height it would have to be full sun.

They are fast growing, drought tolerant and can take some salt.

They do prefer the more arid type of growing conditions like California as opposed to Florida.

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Most of the trees for sale on the market today are a hybrid of the original.

They have much the same appearance of the ancestor except they are a bit more cold tolerant and do better in colder, wetter climates.

For clarification, the more common scientific name for the hybrid is washingtonia filibustas.

Quick info: Scientific name   washingtonia robusta

  • Up to 100 ft tall, 12 ft wide, single trunks
  • Minimum temp 25°f,   zones 9-11
  • Full sun, any well drained soil, fast to very fast growing once started
  • Drought, cold and salt tolerant

The Mexican fan palm has been used often in the lining of streets and avenues.

Some of the oldest trees in LA are now being replaced with oak and sycamore type trees to provide better shade for the areas.

Once most of the old ones are replaced, it won’t look like the same place anymore.

They have been a landmark of identification for so many years that it’s hard to imagine what the landscape will look like without them.

If you are thinking about this tree for your yard, make sure you have enough space to accommodate it.

The oldest Mexican Fan Palms (Washingtonia robusta) in Los Angeles, California. Located on what was Palm Avenue at Adams Boulevard. Planted cira 1875.

Mexican Fan Palms Lining Streets In CaliforniaMexican Fan Palms Lining Streets In California

CC Original photo by: Waltarrrr

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Artificial Plants and Trees 2016

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