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.
Scientific name: Chamaerops humilis
Pronunciation: ku-MEE-rops HEW-mil-liss
Common name(s): European fan palm
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
Height: 8 to 15 feet
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Plant habit: upright; irregular outline or silhouette
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: slow
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
Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristic: emerges in clusters on 6" long panicles
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
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
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.
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.