Trachycarpus fortunei (Hook.) H.Wendl

Chusan palm, fan palm, Chinese windmill palm

Family: Arecaceae
54º 34.99N
5º 55.92W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

Chusan palm is one of 9 species of the genus Trachycarpus. It originates in Central China, being first introduced to the West in 1830 by Philip von Siebold and later, in 1849, by Robert Fortune (hence the species name). It is one of the hardiest palms and survives the cold winters in New York Botanic Garden. It is best grown where strong winds do not damage the huge leaves. It is usually dioecious (male and female on separate plants) with the male plants producing yellowish flowers and the female plants with greenish flowers. The Belfast Botanic Gardens specimen appears to be a male. 

Chusan palm is cultivated in Asia for the very strong fibres that are used to make rope. In the UK it is often grown in seaside towns where it helps to give a tropical appearance to a chilly coastal town. It was awarded an RHS award of Merit in 1970.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2014. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.