Washingtonia robusta
Mexican fan palm

Arecaceae (palm family)
Mexico

An avenue of 10 was planted at the west gateway to the Inner Quad around 1968 when Lomita Mall was laid out. They were about 20 feet tall when planted, so the resulting overnight effect was impressive. Several senior members are to be found behind Bulding 460 and in the islands in the Inner Quad, where they were second only to the late Casuarina glauca in height.

There are hooked spines on the leaf stalks. The flower clusters are rather interesting, if you can find one low enough to see it properly. They are later followed by large bunches of shiny black ⅜-inch dates.

A wave of popularity for new plantings of tall specimens of this fan palm set in just before 2000. There is a spectacular group of 36 – six rows of six each – at Schwab Residential Center in the interior courtyard adjacent to the east building. In 2002, the Science and Engineering Quad was furnished with 22 trees approaching 40 feet in height.

To tell which fan palm is which, just remember that W. robusta from Mexico is less robust than the California fan palm.

Illustrations: gallery

Name derivation: Washingtonia – after George Washington (1732–1799), 1st President of the United States; robusta – Latin, stout.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.