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Chinese windmill palm

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Chinese windmill palm
Trachycarpus Fortunei.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Trachycarpus fortunei

Vancouver Windmill Palms Englishbay.jpg
Windmill Palms at English Bay

The Chinese windmill palm is a species of Palm known by the scientific name Trachycarpus fortunei. It is also known as the Windmill Palm Tree or the Chusan Palm Tree.[2] The species name was given in honor of Robert Fortune, a botanist from Scotland, and the common name refers to Chusan Island, where Robert Fortune first saw the species. This palm tree is a native palm tree in central China and the king in the Northern Palms.[3]

The Windmill Palm Tree is proven to be a very tough palm tree when compare to other species.[2] The Windmill Palm Trees can withstand the cold weather with temperatures ranging 0°F to -10°F, without any damage to its dark lustrous leaves. The slender trunk with the dark green palmate leaves gives it a fancy look to any landscape. In the Northern and the Southern climates, the Windmill Palm Trees are easy to take care of, and grows up to 20-30 feet tall. Like most Evergreens, it grows in spurts from year to year, but one could give it an average of six to twelve inches a year, even in the north. [4]

Body Design

Fan shaped leaf of the Windmill Palm Tree

The Windmill Palm Trees can grow to be different sizes, depending on the environment. If the palm tree is grown indoors, the height can not be more than 2.5 m (8 ft) however, if it’s grown in the wild, it can grow more than 12m (40 ft) tall.[5] The Windmill Palm Tree has a rough trunk, with leaves that can’t be easily ripped. The trunk is 35 cm thick, and is covered by the leaf shafts, which produces fiber that can be made into ropes, mats, brushes, broom, hats, and other fibrous products. The leaves are also sometimes used for thatched roofs.[6] The large, fan shaped leaves grow up to 2m long, with a 1m long toothed stalk. In the middle of the leafstalk, there is fibriform so that after the leaf dies, its still there. The dead leaves hang from the top of the trunk.[7]

The Windmill Palm Tree is a dioecious - meaning there are separate male and female plants.[3] Both a male and a female trees are necessary to produce viable seed. The flowers are yellow for male and green for female. The flower inflorescence in late winter and early spring and held within the crown. The bright yellow flowers come out in the late summer by round blue fruits that are about 1/2 in (1.3 cm).[5]

Life Cycle

The yellow male flowers of the Windmill Palm Tree.

The Chinese Windmill Palm Trees is one of the species that grows slowly. They grow about one foot each year or it may grow 2 feet per year if it is taken care properly. The slow growth of the windmill palm trees contributes to their cold hardiness.[8] [9]Another characteristic for the Windmill Palm Tree is that this species does not self-seed. They are a dioecious type of flower, so only one sex is found on each palm tree. Since one sex is found in different palm trees, both male and female plants must be grown and the female be pollinated by insects in order to achieve seeds.[10]

The Windmill Palm Tree’s propagation is by the seed. Seeds can be sown from September, but October is a good month to sow seeds. The seeds can be sown after scarifying or pre-soaking them in warm water.[10] Ripe Windmill Palm Tree seeds germination will occur within 2 months. No special handling is required for them.[8] To produce viable seeds, the seed must have pollen from a male flower, which then makes its' way to the female blossom. They are branched blossoms, and they produce small, black fruited seeds after it is pollinated. The cleaned seeds varies within a group of species, there are no species that has large seeds.[11] The male Windmill Palm Trees usually show signs of new flower pods in early March. However, the flower starts to bloom in the beginning of May or June. The female palm trees has a yellow-green flowers and the male palms has a brighter yellow flowers than the female. The female flower emerges after the male palm trees have put out their brighter yellow flowers. The male flowers dry out in the summer while the females produce small green fruits.[12] These fruits eventually turns into a half inch, oblong, blue fruit in the fall.[8]


Places where the Windmill Palm can be found. The yellow dots indicate the different places.
The Windmill Palm Tree can tolerate some snowfall during the winter.

Trachycarpus fortunei is a native palm tree found in central China, growing at altitudes of 100 to 2400m (328–7874 feet). The mountains in Southern China is where the firmest palm trees grow. The weather in the mountains is cold during the winter, but moist during the summer. The palm trees are widely established throughout China, Japan, and Southeast Asia for the fibers that’s in the leaf stalk, which are rarely found in forests.[5]

Windmill Palm Trees grows well in warm temperatures and in subtropical climates, as well in parts of the United States, Europe, New Zealand and Asia; but it does not grow well in very hot climates.[3] However they are not harmed by the temperatures that go down to 7℃ (45℉).[5] It can also tolerate some snowfall and temperatures that go down to -15 ℃ to -20 ℃ if they are fully grown as Scotland and British Columbia Canada. The young palm trees need to be covered when the temperature is lower than -8 ℃. If you don’t, after the palm grows, it will have no strength to take care of itself when temperatures get colder. Even with the trees that have fully grown, it is better to cover the tree when the temperature gets cold, so that it won’t be harmed by the cold. [13]

Problems / Treatments

The Windmill Palm Trees does not have many pests and diseases like other palms. Scales and Palm Aphids are pests that causes problem for the palm. However there is a solution that enables an inspection on the palm regularly for insects, if it’s necessary, there is also insecticide. Another problem is that the Windmill Palm can sometimes have rotted roots, and infected leaf spots. However there is a solution, avoid over watering the palm, and avoid overhead irrigation. If you over-water the palm, it will cause the root to rot and cause decay in the palm.[5][14]

Also, lethal yellowing is another problem for the Windmill Palm Tree. The lethal yellowing is a disease that started about a 100 years ago, in the region of North America.[15] There is no cure for this disease, so you would have to do your best in order to prevent the palm tree from this disease. In order to take care of the Windmill Palm Tree, you can check with a local tree care for advice and information. To avoid the lethal yellowing disease, the best solution is to plant palm trees resistant to this disease.[5]


This video is showing us how to transplant a Chinese Windmill Palm Tree (Trachycarpus fortunei).


  1. Trachycarpus fortunei plants.usda. Web. Date accessed on May 10, 2015. Author Unknown.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Windmill Palm naturecoasttree. Web. Date accessed on May 14, 2015 Author Unknown.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Chinese windmill palm Wikipedia. Web. Date Last modified on February 27, 2015. Author Unknown.
  4. Windmill Palm atlantapalms. Web. Date accessed on May 14, 2015 Author Unknown.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Trachycarpus fortunei plantsrescue . Web. Date accessed on May 11, 2015 Author Unknown.
  6. Richins Myers, Vanessa. Growing the Windmill Palm in the Home Garden treesandshrubs. Web. Date Last accessed on May 15, 2015.
  7. Chinese Windmill Palm (Korean) terms.naver. Web. Date accessed on May 14, 2015 Author Unknown.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Windmill Palm Tree botanical-journeys-plant-guides. Web. Date Last accessed on May 17, 2015. Author Unknown
  9. Windmill Palm Trees brighterblooms. Web. Date Last accessed on May 17, 2015. Author Unknown
  10. 10.0 10.1 Trachycarpus fortunei kirmandesign. Web. Date Last accessed on May 17, 2015. Author Unknown
  11. Bergman, Phil. Information about Windmill Palm junglemusic. Web. Date Last accessed on May 17, 2015.
  12. Vic, Den. Sex of the Windmill Palm Tree forums.gardenweb. Web. Date of publication on Last accessed on May 29, 2010.
  13. Wotherspoon, Darla. Windmill Palm Tree palmtreepassion. Web. Date Last accessed on May 15, 2015.
  14. Palm Tree Care palm-tree. Web. Date Last accessed on May 22, 2015. Author Unknown.
  15. Susan, Brian. Windmill Palm Tree florida-palm-trees. Web. Date of publication on Last accessed on June 5, 2009.