by CHRIS WINSLOW
One group of trees long associated with drought and desert conditions is the palm tree. You can also find palms doing perfectly well in equatorial rain forests.
Here in Central Texas, we happen to have both of these climates. Some years we have drought. Others we have rain aplenty.
To complicate this further, we have winters where temperatures fall into the teens and single digits. Are any palm trees so versatile and adaptable that they can handle such variations in temperature and climate?
I can heartily recommend the Mediterranean Fan Palm, and the Windmill Palm.
The Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) is native to the western Mediterranean region, growing along the coasts of Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, and south along the coastline of Africa.
Chamearops is a clumping palm, that grows very slowly. In the Austin area, it is rare to see one taller than 10 feet. They do well in full to partly sunny locations, and once established, need very little water to keep them happy. There is a beautiful specimen of the Fan Palm at the southeast corner of Brodie and Capistrano (Shady Hollow).
Architecturally, the Mediterranean Fan palm makes a striking addition to any landscape. The foliage can be pruned up to feature the main and side trunks, or can be left alone to form a dense bush or screen.
The Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), native to central China, has just one trunk. This palm has been in cultivation for thousands of years and can handle extremely cold weather.
Like the Mediterranean fan palm, the Windmill has palmate leaves, and grows to an average height of 10 to 12 feet. It is shade and sun tolerant, and is easily adaptable to our central Texas landscapes. Look for some beautiful specimens at the far south end of Pinehurst Drive in Onion Creek.
So, we have two palms that can take our summers and our winters. (Many palm websites place their cold tolerance close to zero.)
Cold, heat, and drought tolerant, as well as being absolutely beautiful. What more can we ask for?
Happy gardening everyone!
If you have a question for Chris, send it via email to email@example.com. Or mail a postcard to It’s About Thyme11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748 www.itsaboutthyme.com