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Dwarf Fan Palm (36)

fan palmThe Dwarf Fan Palm (Maltese: Ġummara), a native of the Western Mediterranean region, is the only native Palm tree found on our Islands. This species, which in the past was commonly found in our countryside, has regrettably today become completely eradicated from the wild, probably due its’ over-collection, in the past, by horticulturists. Nevertheless, the Dwarf Fan Palm was re-introduced into the wild from  stock found growing at San Anton Gardens which is thought to be native.   

This Palm tree is scientifically known as Chamaerops humilis. The generic name ‘Chamaerops’ is derived from the Greek words “chamai” meaning “on the ground or low” and rhops meaning “a bush, or clump forming”. Indeed, the Dwarf Fan Palm is a shrub like palm tree, which has a single stem, or possibly several stems growing from a single base. Its stems, which grow very tightly together, are covered with scars or the tough bases of leaf-stalks.

The fan-like leaves, are green to greenish-grey, and are made up of of 10 to 15 linear, lance-like leaflets. These are found on long leaf-stems with a spiny, toothed margin, which help to protect the tree from grazing animals.

The flowers are yellowish and found as a branched spike-like inflorescence. When fertilised, they form a fleshy fruit which is rounded to oblong and up to 15cm in diameter. When it ripens it becomes yellowish or brown.     

The Dwarf Fan Palm has many uses such as in basketry, for the production of ropes, cords, brooms, brushes and mats.
The Dwarf Fan Palm is considered to be a strictly protected tree under national legislation and one should not prune, fell or uproot this tree without previously obtaining the necessary permits from the Competent Authorities.