|Mexican Washingtonias planted in Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden|
Washingtonia robusta (Mexican fan palm or Mexican washingtonia) is a palm tree native to western Sonora, and Baja California Sur in northwestern Mexico. It is reportedly naturalized in Spain, the Canary Islands, Italy, Réunion, Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina and California.
Washingtonia robusta grows to 25 m (82 ft) tall, rarely up to 30 m (98 ft). The leaves have a petiole up to 1 m (3.3 ft) long, and a palmate fan of leaflets up to 1 m long. The inflorescence is up to 3 m (9.8 ft) long, with numerous small pale orange-pink flowers. The fruit is a spherical, blue-black drupe, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) diameter; it is edible, though thin-fleshed.
Cultivation and uses
Like the closely related Washingtonia filifera (California Fan Palm), it is grown as an ornamental tree. Although very similar, the Mexican Washingtonia has a narrower trunk (which is typically somewhat wider at the base), and grows slightly faster and taller; it is also somewhat less cold hardy than the California Washingtonia, hardy to about −8 °C (18 °F).
Field research conducted on Washingtonia robusta in its native habitat on the Baja California peninsula concluded that its potential longevity may exceed 500 years.
Supporting research by Barry Tomlinson and Brett Huggett states that there is "evidence for extreme longevity of metabolically functioning cells of considerable diversity in palm stems." Many of the iconic "sky dusters" of Los Angeles that have survived the chainsaws of progress are documented in photography from the 19th century.
Unlike Washingtonia filifera, which has been cultivated as far north as Oklahoma and Southwestern Utah, the Mexican fan palm can be grown mainly around areas of the southwestern United States, such as California and the coast of Oregon, Arizona, Southern Nevada, and New Mexico. It also grows along the lower East Coast of the United States in coastal areas from southern North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Along the Gulf Coast, Mexican fan palm can be found growing along the Florida west coast westward to Texas.
Flowering palm in Chandler, Arizona
Species in Venice Beach, California
Species line Santa Clara Street in San Jose, California
Oldest palms in Los Angeles, planted circa 1875.
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- "Washingtonia robusta H. Wendl.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- The Plant List
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families,Washingtonia robusta
- Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
- Flora of North America Vol. 22 Page 106 Mexican fan palm, palmier évantail du Mexique Washingtonia robusta H. Wendland, Garten-Zeitum (Berlin). 2: 198. 1883.
- Bullock, S.H.; Heath, D. "Growth rates and age of native palms in the Baja California desert". Journal of Arid Environments. 67 (3): 391–402. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2006.03.002.
- Tomlinson, P. Barry; Huggett, Brett A. (2012-12-01). "Cell longevity and sustained primary growth in palm stems". American Journal of Botany. 99 (12): 1891–1902. doi:10.3732/ajb.1200089. ISSN 0002-9122. PMID 23221497.
- Riffle, Robert Lee (2008). Timber Press Pocket Guide to Palms. Timber Press Pocket Guides. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-88192-776-4.