Two species of Washingtonia
are native to the southwestern U.S.
The other species, Washingtonia filifera
grows poorly in Florida
but thrives with southern California’s
dry climate. This species is from Mexico. It is fast-growing compared
to most palms. The old leaves hang on the palm for many years, a condition
termed marcesence. Scientists have speculated that palms with marcesent leaves
provide a hiding place for nocturnal animals and benefit from the droppings of
those animals. In the wild, the small, black fruits of this plant are an important
Light: full sun
Water: very drought tolerant when established
Soil: well-drained, very adaptable, no other special requirements
This is an attractive, cold hardy palm for north Florida gardens where space permits. It thrives in a sunny, dry site. In Florida, it is suseptible to fatal fungal diseases in especially rainy years. The skirt of dead leaves that are retained is natural. Some people consider it unattractive and it may be trimmed.