Fan palms are diverse trees that include several ornamental and aesthetic palm varieties. Although different fan palm species have different colors, sizes and other characteristics, all of them are adorned with beautiful, large fan-shaped fronds.
These plants can be grown in yards and gardens or kept indoors as houseplants.
Here are a few popular fan palm tree types you must know about!
Botanical name: Washingtonia filifera
The California fan palm or the desert fan palm is native to Southwest U.S. but is often used for landscaping in further areas. This is the only palm that occurs in California naturally.
This fan palm species is marked by a tall grey trunk and pale green fan-shaped leaves. A distinctive feature of the California fan palm tree is its shag of dead leaves that stay attached to the trunk instead of falling off.
With a growth rate of about 1.5 feet per year, these fan palm tree types can be anywhere between 20 to 60 feet on maturity. It thrives in dry and semi-dry climates but can tolerate occasional snow or frost.
Related read: Mexican Fan Palm Growth Rate
Botanical name: Livistona chinensis
This palm species makes a lovely houseplant with its yellow-green broad, fan-shaped foliage and slender stems.
Chinese fan palm varieties are known for their unique frond arrangement where the fronds arch up and then spill downwards, just like a fountain. This is why this variety is also known as the Fountain palm.
These are also a popular choice for landscaping in warm, humid climates. It is a slow-growing palm variety and can be as long as 30 to 50 feet on maturity. However, these fan palm tree types usually remain under 10 feet when grown indoors.
Different types of fan palm trees have different growing requirements. This one prefers bright indirect light, moderate watering and loamy, moist soil to stay healthy.
Thatch palm is an umbrella term that includes several palm plants. They are called thatch palms because they produce fronds usually used for roof thatching.
Native to tropical areas, this fan palm species is a common choice for ornamental house plants and trees worldwide.
Depending on its species, the Thatch palms can be between 12 feet to 40 at maturity. Key thatch palm and Florida thatch palm are two popular fan palm varieties for growing indoors as well as outdoors palms.
Botanical name: Chamaerops humilis
This hardy, multi-trunked but compact fan palm tree types can add a tropical look to any space in your house. It is a clumping palm variety that can reach up to a height of 8 feet to 15 feet at maturity.
The European fan palm, also known as the Mediterranean palm, features fine-textured fronds and light green to silver leaves. This low-maintenance palm variety is drought tolerant and can survive really low temperatures. It prefers partial sun and partial shade along with moderate watering.
Botanical name: Ravenala madagascariensis
Traveler’s palm is not a true palm variety. It is part of the Strelitziaceae family and is related to the bird-of-paradise plants. It is native to Madagascar but is cultivated all around the world.
It features a long trunk topped by huge leaves arranged in a single plain, giving them a fan-like appearance. The leaves can accumulate water at their base. It is said that the water can actually be used for drinking purposes by thirsty travelers.
These fan palm species can grow up to be as long as 26 feet at maturity. These fan palm varieties grow considerably. The height and width proportions make them more suitable for expansive landscapes and homes with larger spaces.
Botanical name: Licuala grandis
These beautiful fan palm tree types are native to Vanuata Islands (Australia). This slow-growing species can reach a height of about 10 feet at maturity and around 6 feet when planted in a container.
Their unusually pretty ruffled leaves make this shorter palm variety ideal for indoor and outdoor ornamental plants. These glossy green pleated leaves resemble the shape of a huge folded fan.
This fan palm species prefers shadier conditions, has average watering needs and needs to be fertilized regularly with a palm fertilizer during the growing season.
Botanical name: Brahea Edulis
These small palms to medium-sized fan palm plants consist of a thick solitary trunk and a canopy of bluish-green fronds that are shaped like a fan. It produces rounded pulpy black fruits that can be eaten fresh or used for making preserves.
These types of fan palm plants grow about a foot per year and can be anywhere between 30 to 40 feet tall on maturity. This hardy species can thrive in the desert as well as in beach conditions.
However, it does not do well in constant humid conditions. It prefers full sun, well-drained soil, and occasional summer watering (once established).
Sabal palmetto, commonly known as the cabbage palm, is adorned with a single trunk with a full, round canopy of long fan-shaped leaves. These costapalmate leaves are grey-green in color.
This elegant and hardy variety can tolerate salt, wind and low temperatures. Its ornamental and rustic appearance makes this palm variety a hit among home gardeners and is grown in groupings, groves, or as a single specimen.
The new leaf buds of Sabal Palmetto are widely used in salads. Growing at an annual rate of 12 to 24 inches per year, this species can be between 40 to 50 feet tall at maturity. It prefers full sun, moist and well-drained soil, and is drought tolerant once established.
These types of fan palm plants are low-maintenance and have average water requirements.
You may also like to read about how long does a palm tree live.
Botanical name: Bismarckia nobilis
This massive palm variety comes with a stout trunk topped with a symmetrical crown. Its elegant appearance makes Bismarck palm an ideal choice for adorning your garden or backyard.
Its thick trunk, waxy, silvery-green copalmate leaves and huge appearance make this palm the focal point wherever it is grown.
Native to Madagascar, this fan palm species needs space to grow as it can be as tall as 60 feet with a spread of about 16 feet.
However, caring for an established Bismarck palm tree is quite easy. These types of fan palm plants are drought tolerant, thrive in full or partial sun, and prefer well-drained soil.
Botanical name: Trachycarpus fortune
This palm variety consists of a slim trunk and long, fan-shaped leaves. Its pinnate fronds can be anywhere from dark green to yellow-green. This plant is one of the top preferences for landscaping or as a patio tree.
Although a slow-growing variety, the Windmill palm can be between 20 to 40 feet at maturity. This hardy species can tolerate salt and thrives in shady/semi-shady locations, well-drained soil and moderate watering.
Since its leaves are somewhat delicate, it is best to keep the tree in a sheltered area to protect it from strong winds.
Botanical name: Serenoa repens
Saw palmetto is a slow-growing multi-trunked palm that is native to Florida and South-eastern U.S. but is found in far north and far east states.
Its stout stems usually grow horizontally along the ground and produce fan-shaped fronds. At maturity, the height of this plant can range anywhere between 5 feet to 10 feet.
Saw Palmetto thrives in full sun, is drought tolerant once established, and is quite easy to maintain.
Botanical name: Latania lontaroides or Latania lontarodes
One of the most beautiful fan palm varieties, the Red Latan palm is adorned with a single smooth trunk and a crown of huge palmate leaves.
It gets its name from the reddish leaves, leaf margin, veins and petiole featured by younger trees. As the palm matures, these leaves lose their reddish color and turn green.
However, the leaf margin and leaf stems remain red. This slow-growing palm can reach up to 40 feet at maturity. It prefers partial shade to full sun, moist but well-drained soil and has moderate water requirements.
A. As a descriptive term, fan palm includes various varieties of palms in different genera with palmate leaves. Out of these, the Australian fan palm (Licuala ramsayi) is native to Australia.
A. Yes! A lot of fan palms thrive in full sun. Species like Alexander palm, Bismarck palm, Chinese fan palm, Foxtail palm, Sabal palm, Triangle palm do well in full sun.
A. Most fan palm tree types prefer loamy, moist and well-drained soil. However, soil requirements may vary in different fan palm types.
A. The height of a fan palm depends upon its type. California fan palm, Chinese fan palm, Guadalupe palm, Thatch palm, Bismarck palm, Sabal palmetto, Red latan palm and windmill palm varieties are between 40 to 60 feet at maturity.
On the other hand, Saw palmetto, Ruffled fan palm, Travellers palm, European fan palm- these types of fan palm plants remain much shorter (usually less than 20 feet).
A. You can identify your fan palm tree types by observing the shape of its fronds as well as its trunk. Multiple types of fan palm trees have varying frond sizes and arrangements.
A. The giant fan palm or Licuala peltate is a palm variety that is native to Malaysia and southern Thailand. It features a short trunk with huge, undivided green leaves that can be as long as 4 feet.
A. Fan palm leaves are palmately lobed. Since palm leaves are monocot, they exhibit parallel venation.
A. To take care of palms, you need to provide it optimal growing conditions. Most fan palm varieties often prefer full to partial sun, well-drained soil and moderate watering (once established). Fertilizers and occasional pruning are also vital for the healthy and quick growth rate of your palm.
Since different types of fan palm trees have varied requirements, it is important that you cater to their specific requirements to ensure healthy growth.