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What is a Chusan Palm?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2016
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The Chusan palm, also known as Trachycarpus fortunei, windmill palm, or Chinese windmill palm, is a palm species that is native to China and Myanmar. This type of palm tree is single-stemmed and grows up to 20 feet (6 m). Its 4 foot (1.2 m) wide fan-shaped leaves are what make these garden plants unique. It is, therefore, a fan palm. The male plants produce yellow flowers during the summer, while the female plants have flowers that reproduce dark blue fruits. Many gardeners find that these evergreen palms serve as an excellent specimen for their gardens.

Chusan palms are hardy plants as they can grow at high altitudes, approximately 7,874 feet (2,400 m) in mountains, and also in temperate regions with weather that includes extremely cold winters. For its tolerance of cold temperatures, the palm is highly valued, as it can be cultivated in cool and damp regions of the world, including Scotland, Alaska, and the Netherlands. This palm grows best in fertile and well-drained soil, where there is full sunlight, and it will not grow well in extreme heat or windy areas. Young plants must be protected from very low temperatures.

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The sturdiness of the Chusan palm is shown in its leaf sheath fiber, which is used in countries like China and Japan for making ropes and sacks. Though the trunk of this palm is also very strong, the palms are slim compared to other trees and are covered with dark brown fibers that tend to get removed as the plant ages. This process makes the palm have a smooth stem when it is fully grown.

In 1830, the Chusan palm was brought into Europe from Japan. The man who brought it was a German physician named Philipp Franz von Siebold. This plant was not named after him, however, but after Chusan Island, which is now called Zhoushan Island. The first time the palm was described was in 1850 by Carl Friedrich Philipp von Maritus; he wrote about it in his work Historia Naturalis Palmarum.

The Chusan palm is commonly grown in many European countries, the southwestern and northwestern United States, and Asia. They grow abundantly in the Chusan Islands, China, and Taiwan. The palms are also the focal points of some gardens and outdoor spaces. They are grown in gardens around the globe and serve as a specimen that provides shelter to its surrounding plants. In addition, the palm is a perfect combination for every beach.

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