California Fan Palm (Filifera)

The California Fan Palm (Filifera) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is native to the U.S. (United States) .

General Characteristics

General: Palm family (Arecaceae). This tree has a thick, robust trunk and achieves a height up to 20 m. The large tufts of leaves are fan-shaped, fibrous, and gray green, and their spined petioles are 1-2 m. The blades are 1-2 m and are divided nearly to the middle. The many white flowers are small and enclosed by a spathe. The black fruits are oblong or ovate.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

Adaptation: This plant is found below 1200 m in groves, alkaline spots of seeps, springs, and streams, on the west and north edge of the Colorado Desert, Turtle Mountains, the Sonoran Desert, southeastern Arizona, and northern Baja, California.

Propagation by seed: One can improve seed germination by collecting seeds from coyote manure. Apparently germination is very high from seeds which have passed through the animals' digestive systems. Plant the seeds in the spring in large pots, one-quarter inch apart in well-drained, friable soil such as a mixture of sand, loam, and peat moss or vermiculite and peat moss. Be patient, as the seeds take from four to fifteen weeks to germinate. At the first true leaf stage, plant the seedlings into separate one-gallon containers and hold until out-planting. Seedlings should be sheltered from winds and major temperature changes. When planting fan palm in a permanent location, plant seedlings during the fall, in areas exposed to full sunlight. Fall plantings must be watered during the following two summers if rainfall is low.

General Upkeep and Control

The dead leaves that form a skirt should be removed periodically. Native Americans historically and prehistorically enhanced palm populations through firing palm stands and planting seeds. Palm stands were burned to control infestations of the palm-boring beetle (Dinapate wrightii) to improve access to the palms and their fruit by clearing underbrush, and to increase the production and enhance the quality of fruit. Furthermore, these fires encouraged seed production, increasing the density of palms on favorable sites. Native Americans also acted as dispersal agents, carrying seeds of palms, which are small and easy to germinate, from one oasis to the next, extending the palm's range.

Plant Basics
General Type Tree
Growth Duration Perennial
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA