California Fan Palm [Washingtonia filifera (Lindl.) Wendl.]

California Fan Palm [Washingtonia filifera (Lindl.) Wendl.]

Listing CNPS Unlisted R-E-D Code - None

State/Federal. Status -- None ARECACEAE June

Global Rank None State Rank None

Distribution: San Diego County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Inyo County, Imperial County; Arizona; Nevada; Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: Desert Riparian washes are preferred by the California Fan Palm. The larger canyons can often focus substantial rainfall runoff into the palm oases.

Known Sites: This is the infrequent palm of canyons along the western border of the Colorado Desert. Groves occur at Borrego Palm Canyon, Myers Creek, Mountain Springs, Palm Spring, Indian Gorge, Bow Willow Canyon and Carrizo Gorge. It is also reported from a number of other similar oases in the desert. Colonies of trees such as at Biskra Palms and Macomber Palms in the Indio Hills of Riverside County sometimes grow perched on hillside seeps. Dedecker reports this palm as introduced at springs in Death Valley. Reported by Shreve and Wiggins in Whitewater Creek in Riverside County, and in small canyons of the Kofa Mountains in Yuma County, Arizona.

This palm is lightly collected in Baja California owing to the large fronds necessary to provide a valid specimen; hence true abundance is difficult to assess. One specimen at the San Diego Natural History Museum was collected by Gander (SD 16488) at Gaskill's Tank on the eastern slope of the Sierra Juarez. It is reported growing at Valle de las Palmas southwest of Tecate, Mexico in a "coastal" canyon. Reported on the eastern slopes of the desert mountains of Baja California south to near Bahia de los Angeles.

Status: The California Fan Palm population is relatively stable in San Diego County. Occasionally, some trees are lost during flash floods or killed when their fan "skirts" are burned by vandals. All native stands devoid of substantial historical impacts are recommended for protection.


Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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