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Chaemerops humilis ~ 
Mediterranean Fan Palm


Height: 20'   Growth rate: Slow   Climate zones: 8-17 to 5°   Origin: S Europe, N Africa, Malta


Arguably the all around toughest palm of them all, Chaemerops humilis is a multi trunked, low growing fan palm that can occasionally attain a height of 20' in half a century. The fronds are up to 2' across, deeply cut, and vary in color from a pale green to silver to light blue depending upon the individual genetics of each plant. The petioles are heavily armed with unforgiving spines. The trunks are normally 8- 10 inches in diameter and covered by long brown hair. Attesting to its Latin name "chamai", on the ground, "rhops", a bush, and "humilis", low growing, the "Med" palm is most often found in a dwarfed state in its natural habitat on sun drenched, wind exposed cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea. These conditions have forced this palm to evolve into a very tough plant withstanding temperatures of 0 to 130 degrees fahrenheit, hurricane force winds, and considerable drought. Under favorable garden conditions (regular watering and good soil), the Med can grow fairly large making impressive clumps of multiple leaning trunks to 20' tall by 20' wide.


In the garden, young Med palms are ideal in pots or used at ground level as foundation plants, or tropical fillers. Larger palms can be used as central focal points, or framing formal fountains and other structures. The palm can either be grown as an erect solitary plant by cutting off all suckers, or as a multitrunked specimen by encouraging select suckers to form trunks which then gracefully curve away from the parent trunk. The beauty and the curse of this plant, is its slow growth. Beautiful for some who want to install (and can afford) a sizable plant that won't quickly outgrow its place, and a curse for those trying to grow the plant to a large size in the nursery or the garden (taking decades for the palm to get 10' tall). Since this is the only palm native to southerly Mediterranean Europe, it (along with citrus, olive, and fig trees and rosemary, lavender and grape vines) is a natural ingredient to authenticate a Mediterranean style garden.  



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