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Chamaerops is a genus of plants that belong with the palm tree family and contains the Chamaerops humilis specie. The name chamaerops is derived from the Greek words chamai, which means on the ground, and rhops, which means bush. This phrase is used to describe the habitat of the Chamaerops humilis, which generally features numerous low-lying shrubs and bushes. They are generally found on the dry hills surrounding the Mediterranean Sea in countries such as Italy, Spain, and Morocco.
The Chamaerops humilis typically grows 8 to 15 feet (about 2.4 to 4.5 m) tall and features a spread that is 6 to 10 feet (about 2 to 3 m) wide. Typically, the small, angled trunks lead to several stems that branch off and form gray-green to yellow-green leaves that are organized in the shape of a fan. Beneath the toothed stems, near the trunk, are clusters of yellow flowers that give way to orange or brown fruits in the fall.
Chamaerops are typically used in landscaping as natural sculptures, usually along entryways or next to patios. They can be pruned to expose the mighty trunk or allowed to grow into a bushy shrub. In groups, they are great shrubs for unoccupied corners of a yard. They can generally tolerate locations that are exposed to full sunlight, as well as areas that are covered in partial shade. If located in heavily shaded areas, they can survive but generally elongate its structure to do so.
Generally, chamaerops are drought resistant and slightly salt resistant, which enables them to thrive near the ocean. They can also survive harsh winter conditions, including prolonged frost and snow cover. Generally, they tolerate many kinds of soils, as long as the soil drains well.
The best way to propagate them is from the seeds. A clay pot filled with a mixture of standard potting mix, peat moss, and vermiculite is an adequate medium for a young seedling. The pot is typically placed in an area that is not exposed to direct sunlight and is properly ventilated.
Propagation by division is also possible, but it is extremely difficult to do. Generally, the individual trunks are firmly held together at the root, and the thorns on the stems are an added deterrent to division. It may take an entire weekend, filled with cuts, scrapes, and backaches, to separate and transplant a chamaerops.
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