Palm trees are iconic features of the central and southern California coast. Yet, only one species, the California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera), is native to the state, occurring naturally in desert oases. Palms are mostly tropical and subtropical plants requiring regular watering, yet hardier species do well in California’s dry climate. While you will find species of palms in California that have been harvested for their dates, jelly, and even wine, only Florida and Hawaii successfully support healthy coconut palms in the United States. Lotusland has about 170 species of palms in our collection including over 375 mature palms. While many are scattered around the entire property, this Palmetum has over 60 different types of palms, many of which are not found elsewhere on the property. The Palmetum was begun in 2015 and finished in 2017. The project was funded by donations and designed by Eric Nagelmann.
The beginner palm enthusiast can start to identify palms by noting whether they have one of two primary types of leaves. Palmate leaves grow in a fan shape out of a central point at the end of a stem, looking much look like hands. Pinnate leaves grow like feathers, with leaflets all along a central stem. See if you can find both kinds of leaves among the trees of our Palmetum.
This tile bench is around 100 years old and was originally designed by George Washington Smith. Sitting on the bench, you can look past the water garden and through two tidy rows of Cypress trees to a wishing well in Japanese Garden. This long axis was created in the 1920s for dramatic effect.
Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto):
The Cabbage Palm is the state tree of South Carolina and Florida. It will grow up to ninety feet tall in ideal conditions. While the tree gets its common name from the cabbage-flavor of its edible immature leaves, it is more often enjoyed for its fruits by visiting squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife.
Cliff Date Palm (Phoenix rupicola):
Visiting the Himalayan Mountains, you would likely encounter Cliff Date Palms growing among the cliffs and rocks. Smaller than most palms at twenty feet, it is often enjoyed for its tidy appearance. While many palms retain old leaf bases (this is the textured growth you see on many palm trunks), the Cliff Date Palm retains only scars where leaves once grew, making for a smoother tree.