Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm)

Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Chinese Fountain Palm)

Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm) at the roadsideThese exotic tropical and semi-tropical palms are simply eye-catching and captivating!
Standing tall and imposing with its roundish and solitary trunk, Livistona chinensis is beautifully top-laden with dense and attractive fan-shaped fronds that radiate outwards and have numerous segmented tips that droop gracefully, creating a fountain-like effect! Hence, not surprising that it goes by the nick-names, Chinese Fan Palm and Chinese Fountain Palm.

Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm): zoom in on its crown, laden with olive-like fruitsAn impressive medium-height ornamental palm that is used widely for landscaping. In our beloved country, Malaysia, Livistona chinensis is found planted everywhere, lining the roadsides, road-dividers and freeways, or group-planted at road-junctions, roundabouts, parks and vicinity of shopping malls or hotel grounds.

Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :

  • Botanical Name: Livistona chinensis (synonyms: Latania chinensis, Livistona oliviformis, Livistona subglobosa)
  • Common Name: Chinese Fan Palm, Chinese Fountain Palm
  • Family name: Arecaceae (Palm family)
  • Origin: Native to China, Japan (Kyushu, Ryukyu Islands, Shikoku) and Taiwan
  • Plant type: An ornamental perennial palm tree
  • Features: Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm): mass-planted at a roundaboutLivistona chinensis, one of the 36 species of fan palms of the genus Livistona, is a medium-sized, slow-growing, single-trunked palm tree that reaches about 50 feet (15.2 m) tall in its natural habitat. However, it is often seen at much shorter heights of 10-25 feet (3-7.6 m) and a frond spread about 8-13 feet (2.4-4 m). Its trunk is upright and roundish, up to 1.5-foot (46 cm) in diameter, coloured dark brown and turns grey as it ages.

    Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm): focus on fruits/seeds at the crownIt is top-heavy with dense evergreen fronds whose long yellowish-green leaf-stalks are sparingly covered with sharp spines towards the base.
    The bright green fan-shaped leaves are large, up to 5 feet (1.5 m) across and deeply divided with long tapering segments, about 75 in number, which droop gracefully to present a lovely fountain-like aspect.

    Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm): zoom in on its crown, laden with blue-black fruitsThe leaf sheaths are fibrous, fluffy and brown-coloured, somewhat like nests of birds. Hidden within the upper crown of matured trees, 6-foot-long (1.8 m) inflorescences will emerge, bearing inconspicuous yellow-cream flowers.These will be followed by oval to round olive-like fruits that change from green to blue-black when ripen.
  • Culture (Care): An easy-to-grow palm that is hardy and robust, Livistona chinensis needs the least maintenance. In the tropics like our country Malaysia, most palms including the Chinese Fountain Palm, just flourish unattended, cared for by the abundant tropical rain and sunshine!
    Light: Prefers full sun and bright locations. Semi-shade for young specimen.
    Moisture: Average water needs. Drought tolerant when established. Water adequately if you prefer faster growth.
    Soil: Adaptable to various soil conditions including clayey, loamy and sandy but preferably well-drained soil.
    Others: Needs no feeding though benefits from it. You can feed with a slow-release fertilizer every other month if you desire for more rapid growth. Remove withered fronds and spent or drooping flowering stalks that are within reach to maintain tidiness. Generally pest and disease free.
    For subtropical regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 8b-11. A perennial that thrives in subtropical and temperate regions with warmer climes, Livistona chinensis has been known to be cold-hardy too. It may be able to survive through ice storm with 3-6 inches (7.6-15 cm) of snow and temperatures as low 15°F (-9.4°C) for brief periods, resulting in leaf burn and cold damage but it’ll recover and flourish when temperature becomes warmer. For protection during the cold winter season, best to provide a layer of mulch around the trunk. Read the gardeners’ positive comments at Dave’s Garden of this lovely Chinese Fan Palm
  • Propagation: Propagated by seeds that will germinate within 2-3 months in moist warm soil at sunny sites.
  • Usage: Livistona chinensis (Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm): mass-planted at a roundaboutSpectacular ornamental palm that is popularly used in outdoor landscapes, especially along byways, freeways and roundabouts or mass-planted to beautify entrances to residential and commercial properties, or carparks, public gardens and parks. Or use these majestic palms as screen to border your land for that extra privacy.
    Since Livistona chinensis is slow-growing and of medium-height, it will be great for container gardening or planted in small yards as stand-alone specimen to give a tropical feel. Moreover, its beautiful wide and dense canopy can be used to provide shelter for shade-loving plants beneath.
    Some use them in interiorscape too, such as inside huge shopping malls and courtyards or beside indoor swimming pools.

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Last edit: June 6, 2016

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