Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm
Certainly one of our favourite palms, Trachycarpus fortunei has become so beloved because of how well it thrives in the cooler temperate climates of UK gardens.
The Windmill Palm is an exceptionally hardy evergreen tree that forms a single hairy trunk and attractive large palmate leaves, which form an impressive crown as it grows. In summer it produces drooping panicles of yellowish flowers which add to its exotic appearance.
Native to South Central China, these palms grow in a range of environments – from exposed wooded hillsides to forests where young plants live in low light conditions until they mature. It’s from these variable roots that the Chusan Palm is hardy enough to thrive in our climate.
As well as its common names, you may hear them often referred to as ‘Trachys’ for short. This part of its name comes from the Greek word ‘trachys’, which means rough, referring to the fibrous trunk. Together with the Greek word ‘karpos’, meaning fruit, and the species named to honour Scottish horticulturist Robert Fortune – and you have Trachycarpus fortunei.
This is a perfect palm to bring a classical tropical appearance to any UK garden with a hardy palm that can survive in a range of lighting conditions, and stays attractive all year round. They work well as individual specimens or in small groups, can frame an entrance or doorway, or even kept in a large container.
Care & Size Guidance
Trachycarpus fortunei performs best in part shade, but it is still happy with full sun. Planted in full sun in the ground and Trachys will grow very fast, whilst in a pot in the shade they will grow very slowly. The most important consideration is to try and choose a location for it that is protected from winter winds.
Of all the arborescent (trunked) palms, T. fortunei has the best winter hardiness, with mature plants surviving down to -12C.
When happy, this palm grows 30 centimetres or more of trunk per season.