Washingtonia - - Semi-mature and mature Washingtonia robusta

02 9652 0300



Washingtonia robusta - Washington Palm, Skyduster, Mexican Fan Palm





North west Mexico, Southern Sonora, Baja California

Plant Type:

Evergreen tree-like soft wooded perennial - palm


Trunk 25 - 30m high, crown of leaves about 8m across.

Habit/ Form:

A tall thin trunk 25 - 30m high, with a rounded crown of fan shaped leaves at the top, unless pruned the whole of the trunk can be covered with a shaggy petticoat of faded fronds.


Petiole 1.2m long, reddish brown (W filifera has a green petiole) very brown at the base. Usually with more rose thorn shaped spines than W filifera when young (the spines cover the entire length of the petiole, W filifera has most of its spine towards the base of the petiole), less spines when mature. Leaf, palmate, not as wide as W filifera, bright green with many long threads, which are not produced on the leaves of mature plants.


The branched spadices are 3 - 5m long and arise from between the frond bases (interfoliar), they are erect at first, then arching out and extending beyond the foliage, flowers are white, usually produced during the warm months.


Almost spherical, dark brown, pea-sized to 4mm across and produced in large numbers on the now hanging spadices in the warmer months.

Bark / Trunk:

A tall slender greyish (sometimes brownish) trunk 25 - 30m high, about 250mm round at the mid point, covered in leaf scar rings and some vertical fissures, prominently swollen at the base.

Vigour / Longevity:

Slow growing, may take up to 10 years to form a trunk, then growth rate improves to moderately slow, long lived.

Environmental Requirements:

Best growth in sunny positions, even as young plants. Very hardy to western sun, can tolerate some shade if acclimatised.


Light frosts once established, not as cold tolerant as W filifera, drought tolerant, more tolerant of coastal conditions than W filifera.

Soil / Drainage:

Any well drained soil, the richer the better for faster growth, hardy to most well drained soils.


Little maintenance is needed once this palm is established, the dead 'fronds' can be left on this palm so that they form a petticoat, many people remove the faded fronds because they are a fire hazard.


Extra watering will improve the growth rate.


Organic nitrogenous fertilisers during the growing season will improve the growth rate.

Pests / Diseases:

Is susceptible to the same species of Fusarium Wilt that attacks Phoenix canariensis.


Pots, tubs, avenues, street tree, tropical effect plant, dry areas, foliage and habit contrast plant.



© Text reproduced here with the kind permission of Tony Wilson and Barck Books.



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