Palm Trees And Cycads From Jungle Music - Why Choose Fan Palm Trees


Phone: (619) 291 4605
Fax: (619) 574-1595


Palm Trees >>Palm Tree Help >>Why Choose Fan Palms? >>Page 2

Why Choose Fan Palms? , (Continued Page 2)


Brahea brandegii
(Click photo to enlarge)

Rhapis humilus
(Click photo to enlarge)

Diversity In Size and Stature

With fans you also see a tremendous diversity in size and stature. Miniature Licualas can adorn your understory plantings, while Brahea brandegii, Washingtonia and Livistona species can tower to the top of the canopy. There are lots of medium sized fan palms that can fit into almost any garden. Coccothrinax crinita , the Old Man Palm, seldom gets over 15 feet in many decades. Pritchardias usually peak out at about 15 to 20 feet in Southern California. There are very stout trunks like with the Washingtonia filifera, which are quite massive at the base.  There are thin little trunks like with Rhapis humilis . If you really like unusual, plant a Hyphanae species which will actually branch way above the ground, unique to the palm world. 

Coccothrinax crinita, mature specimen
(Click photo to enlarge)

Hyphaene coriacea
(Click photo to enlarge)


Rhapidophyllum hystrix, trunk, note needles on spine
(Click photo to enlarge)

Zombia antillarum, with its unique trunk spines and fiber
(Click photo to enlarge)

Interesting Trunks

Also, the trunks on fan palms typically are a often more interesting than those of their pinnate cousins. Zombia antillarum  hosts suckering trunks with a combination of swirling mat and spirals of spines. Once seen, one typically does not forget the fascination of a ZombiaCoccothrinax crinita trunks look like the hair from the ZZ Top Band. You can almost braid them. Rhapidophyllum hystrix has spines that could be used in blow guns. Latania species seem to have a criss-cross patchwork of old still-attached leaf sheaths and Sabal causarium look like towering tan cigars. 

coccothrinax crinita shaggy trunk

Coccothrinax crinita, shaggy like an old man's beard.
(Click photo to enlarge)

Sabal causiarum
(Click photo to enlarge)

Trithrinax acanthicoma
(Click photo to enlarge)

Brahea aculeata, a small Brahea species
(Click photo to enlarge)

Hardiness To The Elements

And, what about survivability and cold hardiness. Fan palms typically can tolerate a lot more cold than pinnate palms. Rhapidophyllum hystrix can winter out in Salt Lake City and tolerate temperatures below zero Fahrenheit.  Trachycarpus can tolerate the cold in some parts of New England. Brahea armata can tolerate the hottest, driest sun in the desert as well as fairly severe cold.  For very cold areas, think about planting Braheas, Washingtonia,, Rhapidophyllum, Sabals, Livistona, Trachycarpus, Trithrinax acanthicoma and Nannorrhops. Washingtonia robusta makes a great palm for oceanfront properties.  It also attains impressive heights above eighty feet.  Also, many fan palms seem to tolerate low levels of watering and are great for xerophytic gardens. 

Nannorrhops ritchiana
(Click photo to enlarge)

Trachycarpus fortunei
(Click photo to enlarge)

Copernicia macroglossa
(Click photo to enlarge)

Brahea decumbens, which doesn't show its blue color for many years 
(Click photo to enlarge)


Growth Rate

Most people are of the mind that fan palms are very slow growing. This is correct for many species, incorrect for some. Palms like Brahea decumbens and Copernicia are slow growing. However, Washingtonia robusta can almost keep up with a King Palm. Bismarkias and Pritchardias are not slow at all. A 15 gallon plant of either can be quite large in five to ten years in the ground. Remember, most fan palms don't get real tall. But, with most species of fan palms, the growth rates are somewhat slow compared to the common pinnate palms.


What About Rarity?

And, finally, what about rarity?  Some enthusiasts like to search out things that are unusual and not in the usual palm garden.  Well, there are fan palms that are unbelievably rare and hard to find.  Examples are Brahea decumbens, Itaya amicorum, Keriodoxa elegans, and Borassus.  Borassodendron machadonis is not only rare but strikingly dramatic.  Photographs of the latter have been used on the dust cover of a major palm book.  Copernicia fallaense is beautiful and rare and seldom seen outside of Cuba.  I guarantee you that any palm nurseryman worth his salt can come up with fan palm species that you, your neighbors, and no one in your local garden center has ever seen.      

Washingtonia robusta
(Click photo to enlarge)


Assorted fan palms
(Click photo to enla


Things To Remember

If now you are convinced that you should try a few fan palms, there are a few very important things to remember. First, as mentioned above, most fan palms are typically slower growing than pinnates. Therefore, if you are a Johny-come-lately sort of guy and plant the fan palms decades after the pinnates, they may never match the stature of the rest of your garden. Therefore, plant your fans in the early years of your garden so they can look mature as the rest of your garden gets large. Also, many fan palms demand full sun. If you plant the world's "best" domestic collection of King Palms, you might consume all your sun and not have enough left for the fan palms.  Most but not all fans want adequate sun.  Also remember that faster growing pinnates might shade out adjacent fan palms. Remember this when you plant your garden and protect the sun exposure on the fans. Also, some fan palms want less water. Adjust your watering pattern or sprinklers to give appropriate water to the more drought tolerant fan palms. Also be courageous. We've come to understand that there are a lot of interesting fan palms that live in our locality. Give some of the rare ones a try.



So, why choose some fan palms? Because, if you like palms in the first place, you are probably cool and more classy than the next guy. And, cool people do come to love the fan palms as well. Be different. Be a fan and plant one! 



Return to Palm Advice


Phil Bergman
Owner and Author

Jungle Music Palms, Cycads and Tropical Plants
Nursery Location: 450 Ocean View Ave., Encinitas, CA 92024
Nursery Hours: 9AM to 4PM, Monday through Saturday
Nursery Phone: 619 291 4605





It's easy to sign up for our monthly email newsletter.  Monthly emails tell you about new articles, unpublished specials and discounts and other interesting website features.  

It's easy and a two step process.  Remember to respond to the immediate "opt in" email you get after signing up.



Home Contents Palms Cycads Directions

  To be added to our mailing list click here. Receive quarterly species lists and announcements of Jungle Music's famous Open House Sales!

Send mail to with inquiries about Jungle Music nursery stock or mail order.

1997- Jungle Music Palms and Cycads
Last modified:

All major credit cards accepted