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Publication #ENH-802

Trachycarpus fortunei: Windmill Palm1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

The erect, single trunk of windmill palm is covered with dense, brown, hairlike fibers, and the three-foot-wide, fan-shaped fronds extend from 1.5-foot-long, rough-edged petioles. The trunk appears to be wrapped in burlap. A very slow-growing palm, windmill palm can reach 40 feet in height but is often seen much smaller, 10 to 20 feet tall. Windmill palm works well as a framing tree, accent, specimen, patio or urn subject. It is ideal for use as an accent in a shady shrub border or by a front entryway. It does well in confined areas and is hardy to 10°F or lower.

Figure 1. 

Mature Trachycarpus fortunei: windmill palm


Credit:

Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Trachycarpus fortunei
Pronunciation: tray-kee-KAR-pus FOR-too-nee-eye
Common name(s): Windmill palm
Family: Arecaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 8A through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: indoors; deck or patio; specimen; container or planter
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 

Range


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 10 to 20 feet
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: palm, upright/erect
Crown density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: star-shaped
Leaf venation: palmate
Leaf type and persistence: broadleaf evergreen, evergreen
Leaf blade length: 18 to 36 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: yellow, white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: not showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch, .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: blue
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: not applicable
Current year twig thickness:
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: partial sun or partial shade, shade tolerant
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Windmill palm should be grown in shade or partial shade on fertile soil to look its best, but it is also tolerant of full sun on well-drained soils when given ample moisture in the northern part of its range. Plants should be watered faithfully. Protection from harsh winds will minimize leaf tearing, but plants can be used successfully close to the shore, being quite tolerant of salt and wind. There are fine examples of mass plantings where palms are spaced six to 10 feet apart around a patio or sitting area. They have also been used very successfully lining an entry walk to a large building. This adds a formal elegance to any structure, especially one with a glass facade.

Propagation is by seed.

Pests

Scales and palm aphids are pests of windmill palm.

Diseases

Windmill palm may be infected by root rot, moderately susceptible to lethal yellowing disease, and leaf spots.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH-802, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, 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.