This Trachycarpus fortunei is native to mountainous habitat ranging up to 7000 feet in China and has evolved to tolerate prolonged freezing temperatures at elevation. The most cold hardy of all palms, it also thrives at the Grove in Riverside in hot summers and cold winter nights, unfazed by wind or other abuse nature offers.
This hardiness of the Chinese Windmill palm, or Chusan Palm, likely accounts for its prolific use in municipal or roadway landscaping. There are many dozen examples planted among Mediterranean fan palms along the median or side of Pacific Coast Highway between Huntington and Laguna Beach, California.
Though it has a straight, solitary stem that grows quite tall and is rather narrow by comparison, the Windmill palm bears some resemblance to older, well-manicured, single trunk Mediterranean fan palms. The leaf size, color and shape is similar, but with a slightly longer petiole. The armature is also far less aggressive than the pointed tips of the Mediterranean.
The trunk of this palm is a distinctive feature and has strongly persistent woolly fibers that form a thick coat.
The Windmill palm is capable of growing and thriving in an diverse range of climates, from the inland heat of Southern California to farther into the northern hemisphere than any other species of palm. In fact, it is often seen in photographs covered in a layer of snow and ice. Most palms would call it quits after a day of such conditions, or even a few hours, but this one survives.