Trachycarpus fortunei, also known as the Chinese windmill palm, is a fan palm that is considered one of the hardiest palms in the world. Native to the mountains and temperate regions of subtropical Asia (primarily central China, south to northern Burma and northern India) this evergreen tree grows grows at altitudes up to 7,874 ft feet, where the climate is cool and wet in summer, cold and often snowy in winter. It can tolerate winter temperatures below -20°C. Some planted in Bulgaria are known to have survived a temperature of -27.5°C, the coldest temperature reported to have been survived by any palm. It is tolerant of heavy snow cover.
The Chinese windmill palm has single stems with large, 4-foot-wide fans of sword-like leaves and produces large plumes of yellow flowers in early summer, which turn into bluish-black fruits, ripening in mid-Autumn.
The trunk of this palm is very rough with the persistent leaf bases clasping the stem as layers of coarse fibrous material (as seen in the photo above).
The exact natural distribution is uncertain due to extensive cultivation for fibre product. It is commonly grown as a landscape specimen in central and northern Florida, the southeastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and in mild areas along the west coast.
There are four (4) of this palm growing in the Merwin Palm Collection.
Want to “virtually explore” the Merwin Palm Collection? Search through our archive of Palm Facts of the Week, featuring palms hand-planted by W.S Merwin. To search through the Online Merwin Palm Database, visit this link.
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