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Publication #FPS123

Chamaerops humilis: European Fan Palm1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean2

Introduction

This small, multi-stemmed palm is the only one native to Europe, hardier than most palms, and reaches heights of 8 to 15 feet. The curved, clumping, short trunks and gray-green, fan-shaped leaves, borne thickly in a bushy head, make a stunning sculptural element in a garden or patio containers. The fine-textured fronds make the palm stand out from other plants in the landscape. Leaf color on individual plants ranges from deep green to grayish and bluish green. Although growth rate is slow, it is well worth the wait since even small plants will stand out nicely in almost any landscape.

Figure 1. 

Full Form—Chamaerops humilis: European fan palm


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General Information

Scientific name: Chamaerops humilis

Pronunciation: ku-MEE-rops HEW-mil-liss

Common name(s): European fan palm

Family: Arecaceae

Plant type: tree; shrub

USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: native to Europe and Africa

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not assessed/incomplete assessment

Uses: specimen; container or above-ground planter; near a deck or patio; foundation; border; mass planting; accent; suitable for growing indoors

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


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Description

Height: 8 to 15 feet

Spread: 6 to 10 feet

Plant habit: upright; irregular outline or silhouette

Plant density: moderate

Growth rate: slow

Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: semi-circular to circular

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: lobed

Leaf shape: palmate

Leaf venation: palmate

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 3 feet

Leaf color: deep green to grayish and bluish green

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf—Chamaerops humilis: European fan palm


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Flower

Flower color: yellow

Flower characteristic: emerges in clusters on 6” long panicles

Flowering: spring

Figure 4. 

Flower—Chamaerops humilis: European fan palm


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Figure 5. 

Spines—Chamaerops humilis: European fan palm


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Fruit

Fruit shape: round

Fruit length: ½ inch

Fruit cover: dry or hard

Fruit color: yellow orange and turns brown when ripe

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; can be trained to grow with a short, single trunk

Bark: dark to light brown or gray, with remnant leaf bases still attached, and densely to lightly covered or completely lacking in a mat to dark or light brown fibers

Current year stem/twig color: not applicable

Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable

Figure 6. 

Bark—Chamaerops humilis: European fan palm


Credit:

Gitta Hasing


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Culture

Light requirement: full sun to partial shade

Soil tolerances: alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam; moist but well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Soil salt tolerances: poor

Aerosol salt tolerance: low

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

By removing suckers from the base of the main trunk, this slightly salt-tolerant palm may also be trained as a single-trunked palm. Since the leaf stalks are spiny, fan palm may also be used as a barrier, planted three to five feet apart. It makes a nice accent plant in a shrub border or in a low-growing groundcover. It can also be planted several feet apart in a mass on a large-scale landscape forming a fine-textured accent area. Growing best in moist rich soil, it is drought- and wind-resistant, and established plants will survive temperatures to 10°F or below, in full sun, or light shade. Plants grow very slowly in the shade.

Propagation is by seed or division.

Pests and Diseases

Scale may be a problem.

No diseases are of major concern.

References

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS123, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.