Herb: Desert Fan Palm


Latin name: Washingtonia filifera


Family: Palmae



Edible parts of Desert Fan Palm:

Fruit - raw or cooked or dried for later use. It can be made into jellies and drinks or dried and ground into a meal. The seed can be ground up with the dried fruit and then both are eaten as a porridge. The fruit is small and hard, but has a thin sweet pulp that tastes somewhat like dates. The ovoid fruit is about 6mm long and 4mm wide. Young central bud - roasted. Harvesting this central bud will kill the tree since it is unable to make side branches. Young leaf bases - raw or cooked. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a powder and used for making bread or porridge.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Tree

Height:
12 m
(39 feet)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Often forming extensive groves or small isolated clumps in moist alkaline spots in rocky canyons about seeps, springs and streams below 1500 metres.

Other uses of Desert Fan Palm:

A fibre from the leaves is used in basket making and for cordage. The whole leaves are woven and used as the side walls and roofs of huts and temporary dwellings. The seeds have been used as the rattle in gourd rattles. Wood - light and soft. It has been used for making cooking implements, spoons etc.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Pre-soaking for 24 hours in warm water may speed up germination, especially of stored seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from the cold for at least their first two winters outdoors.

Cultivation of Desert Fan Palm:

Often forming extensive groves or small isolated clumps in moist alkaline spots in rocky canyons about seeps, springs and streams below 1500 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Washingtonia filifera:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.