Arecaceae (palm family) Washingtonia

Washingtonia filifera California fan palm

Southern California
The stout trunk of Washingtonia filifera in the Arizona Garden towers next to a massive, blooming Yucca filifera. Both have filamentous leaf edges, as their specific names suggest. Sairus Patel, 19 Jun 2021

Stouter and shorter than the much more common Mexican fan palm and hairier on the leaf margins. The ancient specimens in five islands of the Inner Quad are probably originals, dating to 1890. Compare them to the Mexican fan palms more recently planted (2002) in adjacent islands. A California fan palm hides among the oaks and cedar on the corner of the Bookstore left of the entrance, another near the Canary Island date palm in the middle of the grove on Jane Stanford Way in front of the George P. Schultz Building. At the Arizona Garden, two stand guard at the north entrance, while one anchors the center, next to the large tree yucca. These date back to the planting of the garden in the early 1880s.

Washingtonia filifera palmately compound leaf, fruit. From: George B. Sudworth, Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope. USDA, 1907

Name derivation: Washingtonia – after George Washington (1732–1799), 1st President of the United States; filifera – (leaves) composed of or bearing thread-like structures.

Nomenclature note: Fred Hrusa’s Crosswalk.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry started off as published in the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings subsequently added the nomenclature note. Entry almost entirely revised, Bookstore and Schultz locations added, note on Palo Alto’s 918 Moreno Avenue trio removed (it is W. robusta); all locations up to date (Apr 2023, SP).