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Chusan Palm

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Plants. Trachycarpus fortunei, commonly known as Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm is a palm native to central and eastern China, where it is one of the hardiest palm species in the world. The hemp or windmill palm is a fine evergreen Himalayan palm, medium-sized in gardens but ultimately 10-12m (33-40ft) after a century or so in a good climate. It is the hardiest of the trachycarpus species, and thrives in mild seaside gardens, where it flowers and seeds itself freely, adding tropical flair to planting schemes. Elsewhere it requires the shelter of a warm wall to protect it from frost and the cold winds which can shred its huge fan-shaped leaves. In cold gardens, it is best grown as a container plant. It grows to 15 m tall on a single stem up to 20-35 cm diameter. The trunk is very rough with the persistent leaf bases clasping the stem as layers of coarse fibrous material. It is a fan palm (Arecaceae under family Corypheae, tribe Livistoneae, subtribe Rhapidinae), with the leaves with the long petiole bare except for two rows of small spines, terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets; each leaf is 140-190 cm long, with the petiole 60-100 cm long, and the leaflets up to 90 cm long with ragged drooping tips. Some specimens are seen with leaf segments having drooping and others straight tips. Both variations were formerly considered to be distinct species and received the names of Trachycarpus excelsa (stiff tips) and Trachycarpus fortunei (drooping tips). The latter species was described by William Jackson Hooker in 1860. Later both species were subsumed under the common name of Trachycarpus excelsa. As this name became invalid in 1931 the species adopted the current valid name of Trachycarpus fortunei (Hook.) H. Wendl. This palm was brought from Japan (Dejima) to Europe by the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold in 1830 some 15 years before it became more commonly known as the Chusan Palm after Robert Fortune had brought some plants and seeds from China to England.

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