Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

A single trunk palm tree, with about 20 leaves. The leaves are fan-shaped and are similar to needle palm leaves. The slender (1 foot or less diameter) trunk is brown and is usually covered with a burlap-like texture. The trunk is often wider at the top than at the bottom.

Native habitat: An understory tree from forests in eastern China.

Size: Height at maturity is most commonly around 25 feet in our region, up to 40 feet in areas like California. Growth rate is moderate to somewhat fast with good care. In it's early growth, it can grow one to two feet a year.

Cold hardiness: Windmill palms are some of the hardiest palm trees, and are about the only palms truly well adapted to colder climates. They are hardy throughout all of Zone 8, and most of Zone 7 if planted in a sheltered site. Windmills have survived temperatures as low as 11 degrees without permanent damage. Require a good site and/or extra protection to survive subzero weather.

Culture: In the Southeast, best with full sun (Zone 7) to light shade (Zone 8b). Must have some shade in zone 8b. Will tolerate most soils, but prefers a rich fertile, loamy soil. Windmill palms grow best with ample water, but they can't tolerate standing water or a high water table. It does not like really warm weather, and grows poorly in southern Florida. The windmill cannot take direct salt spray.

Landscape use: Beautiful in groups, but also effective as a single specimen.