Dwarf Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Dwarf Fan Palm
Chamaerops humilis

A strong fibre obtained from the leaves is used for cordage and brushes[46, 61, 89, 100, 171, 231]. The whole leaf can be used in weaving.

Plants have been used to form hedges in Mediterranean areas[260].

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Very young leaf buds are cooked as a vegetable[46, 61, 105, 183]. The young shoots or suckers from the bottom of the plant are also used[2, 183].

    Fruit – dried[177, 183]. No further details.

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe, the old seed can be slow and difficult to germinate. Scarification or pre-soaking stored seed for 1 – 2 days can be helpful[133]. Sown in a warm greenhouse, the seed usually germinates in 3 – 4 months (but can take longer) at 25¡c[133]. The seed produces a long root some time before a shoot appears above ground and it can be potted up at this time[164]. Grow the plants on in the greenhouse for at least a couple of years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Suckers, removed in spring.
Easily grown in a rich strong loam enriched with leafmold and sand[1]. Plants grow in poor dry soils in the wild[200]. Requires very good drainage with abundant moisture in the summer and a sunny position[1, 11]. Another report says that plants grow well in dry conditions and are drought tolerant[260]. Tolerates low light levels and can be grown in the home[200]. Requires a position sheltered from the wind and cold[166]. This species tolerates occasional short-lived lows down to about -10¡c[200, 231]. It will not tolerate recurring bouts of freezing over several days, nor does it survive freezing of the root system[231]. Plants are hardy in the milder areas of Britain, succeeding from S. Hampshire south and westwards[1, 11, 59]. Plants growing outdoors at Kew fruited in October 1989[K]. Palms usually have deep penetrating root systems and generally establish best when planted out at a young stage. However, older plants are substantially more cold tolerant than juvenile plants[231]. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection, and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates[231]. Palms can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and/or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced. It is important to stake the plant very firmly to prevent rock, and also to give it plenty of water until re-established – removing many of the leaves can also help[231]. Another report says that this species dislikes root disturbance[132]. Some botanists recognise a sub-species C. humilis arborescens (Pers.)Steud. (a taller growing form) and a cultivar ‘Nana’ which is smaller than the type and suckers. It is likely that these are no more than phenotypes and that this variety of habit can be induced in cultivation, plants in stressful situations such as near the coast duplicating the ‘Nana’ form whilst plants in optimum conditions are more like sub-species arborescens[200]. Plants in the wild are usually found in poor soils and seldom exceed 1.5 metres tall. When grown in better soils in gardens, however, they can grow up to 5 metres tall[260].
Europe – Mediterranean.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.