Plant ID forum: mexican or california fan palm?

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southern california
KTINPINK
May 17, 2018 10:35 AM CST

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 17, 2018 10:47 AM CST
Definitely Washingtonia but I could not say whether filifera or robusta. I don't think the difference is important for most gardening applications.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - May 17, 2018 11:33 AM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
May 17, 2018 11:01 AM CST
I agree too that it's a Washingtonia but I don't know how to tell the difference:
Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
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Name: Scott
Tampa FL (Westchase)
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ScotTi
May 17, 2018 4:15 PM CST
KTINPINK said:
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Looking at the trunks and crowns of the pictured palms I would rule out W. Filifera (known for very thick trunks and a heavy canopy of leaves). That would leave them to be pure W. Robusta or the common hybrid cross of the two often called W. Filibusta.
[Last edited by ScotTi - May 17, 2018 4:31 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
May 17, 2018 6:15 PM CST
The width of the trunk suggests robusta. It does not rule out filifera. Here is a narrow-stemmed filifera, the California fan palm, in habitat in the desert of Baja California.



And here is a group of plants from that same population, which lies at the extreme southern end of the plant's range.



This site is discussed in this publication, if you really want to see the gory details.

http://www.phytoneuron.net/201...

The stem on robusta tends to be narrower but it also tends to be somewhat tapered (twice as wide at the bottom as it is at the top?). I'm not really seeing that in the original photo but maybe it's the case.

As I said before I don't think the differences between the two plants (which you can generally boil down to one being bigger in trunk and crown) are all that important unless you're concerned about size. We have filiferas and hybrids of hybrids sprouting as volunteers everywhere around here... the birds transport seeds far and wide from plants in cultivation.

Some friends of ours used to haunt the canyons where the Washingtonias and Braheas grow together, so we got a taste of what they look like outside of human cultivation. Eagle eyes will discern a couple of Braheas in that landscape shot as well, they are the silver blue palms.

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