Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan palm)
Europe's best known palm tree, the Trachycarpus Fortunei, originates from the mountainous areas of west-, south- and central China. Harsh winters and low temperatures are no stranger to these regions. Because of this, the Trachycarpus fortunei is very winter hardy. It prefers the cooler climates and actually dislikes the tropics, which makes it a perfect candidate for European gardens. That is why this palm tree was brought to Europe around 150 years ago. This turned out to be a success, as the palm tree quickly became quite the attractions for many parks and gardens.
Having a Trachycarpus fortunei in your garden lets you enjoy this beautiful hardy palm tree. With its rough, fibre trunk, which generally is smaller at the bottom and thicker at the top, will leave a good impression. De trunk can grow up to twelve metres (40 feet) high. Trachycarpus grows beautiful dark green fan-shaped leaves, which will get around 40-50 leaflets of around 70 cm (2.3 feet) long. These leaflets are usually 3 cm (1 inch) thick.
Aside from looking very attracting, the Trachycarpus Fortunei is also known for its ability to endure cold. There have been Bulgarian specimens that have survived -27,5C. During that cold, it can handle a blanket of snow without any problems. Generally, most palm trees of North-Western Europe will not endure temperatures that low, but generally more like -18C. This is due to the mildness of the Northwestern European climates (generally sea climates), where winters aren't as cold as in Bulgaria. Palm trees in Northwestern Europe are a little 'spoiled' with milder temperatures and thus cannot handle extreme cold like the Bulgarian specimens. We recommend winter protection for palm trees when temperatures drop further below 0C.
Trachycarpus Fortunei is an easy maintenance palm tree. There are two things to keep in mind when keeping a Trachycarpus fortunei. Firstly, do not create a perpetual wetland for this palm. It prefers well drained soil. Otherwise, any soil will do. It can even handle moderately salted grounds near seas and oceans. The second thing this palm tree does not like is hard winds. It should survive these winds, but it will make the palm tree look a bit messy. If you are planning on placing a palm tree in a windy, non sheltered area, we recommend the sturdy trachycarpus wagnerianus, a palm similar to the fortunei but a bit more wind resistant.
Female Trachycarpus fortunei palms will grow flowers in summer, along with blue seeds. These seeds are oval or round and can be germinated. Germination usually takes around ten weeks, and should take place without too many inconveniences.
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