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California Fan Palm

Washingtonia filifera


Photo © by Michael J. Plagens

Photo by Mike Plagens, spring 2005

Nestled into a steep, narrow canyon of the Kofa Mountains of western Arizona is a grove of California Fan Palms. Much of the mountain range is dry and rocky so that this perched oasis is all the more amazing. This may be the only native grove of this tree in Arizona. A grove near Castle Hot Springs is thought by some to be natural.

These are probably the most widely cultivated palms in the urban areas of the Sonoran Desert. The seeds readily germinate in drains, flower beads and at curb sides. Occasionally they will be found volunteering in washes near urban runoff. They are a favored nest site for Peach-faced Lovebirds.

Flowers appear on large spiked panicles from early June. The larvae of the Palm Flower Moth, Litoprosopus coachella, feed on the developing flowers and provide food for woodpeckers. Huge panicles of small white flowers appear in June; the hard seeds with a very thin pericarp (fruit) mature by autumn and appear to be of little interest to frugivorous birds.

Arecaceae -- Palm Family

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