Common name: Chusan Palm
Trachycarpus fortunei the Chusan Palm is named after Chusan Island (now Zhoushan Island) a small island off the coast of China, where the inhabitants cultivate it to make ropes and sacks from its strong fibres.
It is one of the world's hardiest palms, it can survive severe frosts and high altitudes (up to 2,400m in the mountains of its native southern China).
However, it cannot tolerate hot, dry summers or cold winds which damage its broad leaves.
It is named after Robert Fortune a Scottish botanist and plant hunter who is more famous for introducing tea to the wider world, and it was introduced into Europe by German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold in 1830,and reached the UK in 1836.
It can be best described as a hardy evergreen fan palm with large ribbed fan shaped mid green leaves (fronds) each with up to 50 pointed segments in it.
Each of these fronds sprout from the centre of the trunk.
It is a dioecious plant meaning that the male and female flowers produced on separate trees.
The male flowers are yellow and the female flowers are green.
Both appear in spring and are small, up to 4mm across, but hang in long panicles that can reach a metre in length.
In the autumn the small fruits ripen to a dark blue colour.
If allowed to, they can grow up to 9 metres (30ft) high.
It can make quite effective structural plant when grown as a specimen either in the garden or in a pot.
Scarify or pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water then sow in a cold frame in mid to late winter.
Fetch plants into the greenhouse and grow on at 25°C (77F).
The seed should germinate in about 4 - 8 weeks.
As soon as 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 winter.
Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts
Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors.