Chamaerops humilis

Common name

European fan palm, Mediterranean fan palm


Stems: Clustering, to 3 m tall, but sometimes solitary and to 7 m tall, and about 30 cm in diameter, covered with dead leaves and persistent fibers. Leaves: Palmate, induplicate, up to 1 m across and divided to over half the length of the blade with leaf segments that have deeply split tips. Leaves may be dull or glossy green, blue-green or silver. Petioles are armed with upward-pointing spines along the margin and covered with white tomentum. The prominent adaxial hastula is symmetrical and arrow-shaped. Flowers and fruits: Inflorescences may be staminate, pistillate and occasionally hermaphroditic; all are about 15 cm long, branched to two orders. Yellow male and female flowers are borne on different plants (usually). The spherical to oblong fruits, 1-1.5cm in diameter, may be yellow, orange, or brown when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Palmate leaves with robust but elegant spines and prominent hastula

May be confused with

Serenoa repens is also palmate with a spiny petiole, but the teeth are small and crowded along the margin. Acoelorrhaphe wrightii is similar, but the petiole spines are short and may be curved to point upward or downward.


Native to the Mediterranian basin

Additional comments

A form of this palm with silvery, waxy leaves is sometimes called Chamaerops humilis variety cerifera. The palms with a solitary, rather than clumping, habit are sometimes sold as Chamaerops humilis var. elatior. This species is among the more cold-tolerant palms.

Scientific name

Chamaerops humilis L.




Chamaerops arborescens Steud.

Chamaerops bilaminata Hort. ex Gentil

Chamaerops comesii Dammann ex Becc.

Chamaerops conduplicata Kickx

Chamaerops elata Hort.

Chamaerops macrocarpa Tin.

Last Updated May 2014