Washingtonia Robusta

Common Name: Mexican Fan Palm
Scientific Name: Washingtonia Robusta
Zone: 8B-11
Growth Rate: Fast
Origin: Mexico
Salt Tolerance: Moderate
Drought Tol.: High
Typical Height: 70ft – 100ft


Soaring to over 82 Ft (25m), this is the skyscraper of the palm world. The leaves have a petiole up to 1 m (3.3 ft) long, and a palmate fan of leaflets up to 1 m long.


Washington palm is drought resistant when established, but looks better and grows faster when given adequate moisture.

Water Requirements

Does best with even moisture, but will tolerate occasional flooding, as well as periods of drought when fully established

Habit of Growth

Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 – 11. Washington palm is hardy down to about 20ºF but foliage will be damaged at that temperature.
Large, rapid growing, and hardy all describe the Mexican Fan Palms. Native to the riparian washes and gullies of Northern Mexico, Baja, Southern California and Arizona Mexican Fan Palm trees are very drought and salt tolerant once established. Adapted to a wide range of soil types, and climates. This species easily hybridizes with the California/Desert Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) and a wide variation in phenotypes (outward appearance and growth characteristics) occurs under cultivated conditions. Commonly seen at 40 to 50 feet but capable of soaring to 80 feet in height, Washington Palm is quickly recognized as the much-used, straight, single-trunked street palm of years past. The lower leaves persist on the tree after they die, forming a dense, brown, shaggy covering below the living, bright green, broad, fan-shaped leaves, giving it the common name of petticoat palm. These dead fronds are known to be a fire hazard and a popular bedding roost for rodents and, because of this, must be removed by law in some areas. The sharply barbed leaf petioles and tall, thin trunks make frond removal a rather unpleasant task, but some people think the rapid growth rate and statuesque appearance more than make up for this trouble.

Landscape Uses

Use the Washingtonia Robusta for formal groupings, street plantings, and groves in large open areas. Young plants can be grown in containers and give a tropical look to patios and decks.  The inflorescence is up to 3 m (9.8 ft) long, with numerous small pale orange-pink flowers. The fruit is a spherical, blue-black drupe, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) diameter; it is edible, though thin-fleshed.

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