Information About California Fan Palms Washingtonia filifera.


In the low, hot deserts of California,  running water is scarce. However,  
occasional springs erupt from underground. In some  places, this surface water flows through canyons,  
like this one. This setting is home to a rare  plant community, called a palm oasis. Here,  
the California fan palm is the dominant plant,  creating shade and habitat for bighorn sheep,  
Gambel's quail, coyotes, and hooded orioles.  Let's look at the distinctive features of the  
California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera.

 The  leaf stalk, or petiole, is green and armed with  
teeth along both sides. The leaf blades are stiff  and palmately shaped, with v-shaped segments that  
have thread-like fibers on their margins. The  leaves stay on the tree even after they senesce,  
forming a skirt around the trunk. A profusion of  white flowers develop into more or less fleshy,  
black fruits that hang in large clusters among  the leaves near the top of the tree. Fire is  
an important factor in this plant community. It  rarely kills an adult plant because, unlike most  
trees, palms have water and nutrient-conducting  tissues scattered through their stems and can't be  
girdled. But fire does kill other plants, removing  competitors and organic matter that opens up space  
for palm seeds to germinate. 

Washingtonia filifera  is the only palm tree native to California, and  
seeing it in its native habitat is truly special.  Escape the city to find a special botanical  
treasure, the California fan palm, along with  relief from the Hot Desert Sun in a cool shady  
palm oasis. Want to know more about the plants  you see in California? Follow the Jepson videos.


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