This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

May 27, 2015

Historic palm trees in Glendale, Arizona - Washingtonia filifera

I love palm trees. When I moved to Phoenix in my teens they represented everything that was exciting about my new life away from Minneapolis. In fact, the very first thing that I did when I drove into Phoenix, coming south from Flagstaff, was to exit, drive a block or two, and get out of my car to touch a palm tree. To me, they are the music of my two favorite cities, Phoenix and Los Angeles. And when I hear someone ask *of what use are they?*, I want to ask *of what use is music?*

The most fascinating thing that I've learned in recent years is about the historic palm trees around Phoenix. These are Washingtonia filifera, also called California fan palms. They're native to the desert, and grow naturally in the canyons of California, in places like Twenty-Nine Palms.

Postcard from the early 1900s
As compared to the more common palm of Phoenix and Los Angeles, the Washingtonia robusta, the Washingtonia filifera has a few disadvantages. It grows much, much, slower, and its trunk is thicker and is not as elegant as a Mexican fan palm. So, they fell out of favor many decades ago, and you only see them in historic areas.

California palms (Washingtonia filifera) live for over 100 years, as evidenced by the ones in the historic neighborhoods near me, such as along 59th Avenue south of Northern, and on the campus of Glendale Community College.

Brad draws custom cartoon illustrations for publications, blogs, presentations, anything you want. You can contact him at his website

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