Washingtonia robusta Wendl.


Arecaceae (Palm Family)




Mexican Fan Palm                

                                        January Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Tall slender tree with brilliantly shining foliage; trunk commonly swollen at base; head close because of short petioles; shag of dead lvs. narrow and ragged; petiole red-brown and heavily armed; lf. practically or wholly without filaments except when tree is very young, ends of segms. mostly not declined; fls. bisexual, white, in long paniculate spadices among the foliage, the spathes long and thin; perianth toothed; stamens 6; ovary 3-lobed; fr. a small ellipsoid black drupe with stigma basal.


Habitat:  Commonly planted in Calif. and also eastward on the Gulf region.  No data on bloom period.


Name:  Washingtonia, named in honor of George Washington.  (Bailey 168).  Latin, robustus, robust.  (Jaeger 223).


General:  Occasional in the study area.  Photographed at 23rd Street where there are several specimens, some quite large.  (my comments).     The grape or berry-like black fruits of W. filifera have a thin, sweet, edible pulp around an edible seed and may be eaten raw.  The seed may be ground into fine-tasting meal.  (ref. not recorded).    The Cahuilla Indians made extensive use of W. filifera, the only palm native to Calif.  The leaves were used for roofs, baskets and sandals, while the fiber was used in making cord.  Parts of the palm were also used in the bow and drill used to make fire.  The heart of the palm was sometimes boiled for emergency food.  (Clarke 129).     Berries of W. filifera were roasted or ground into flour in Palm Valley the original name for Palm Springs.  The palm fronds were used for thatching roofs of Indian houses and making skirts of the latest style for the local ladies.  (Indian Uses of Native Plants, a one page handout prepared by the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and the Los Angeles County Dept. of Parks and Recreation.  No date.).       Genus of two species.  (Bailey 168).


Text Ref:  Bailey 168.

Photo Ref:  Jan 2 84 # 16,17; July 1 85 # 10.

Identity: by R. De Ruff.

Computer Ref:  Plant Data 200

No plant specimen.

Last edit 10/17/02.


                                              January Photo