DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Washingtonia filifera, the Californian Fan Palm. The picture shows a garden-grown W. filifera of about 5m in height. The plant, like most palms, has a single unbranched stem, which here is completely obscured by a "skirt" of dead but persistent fronds (brown). Each frond consists of a petiole (the flat upper parts of the skirt; also, the green stalks at the top of the picture), to which is attached the "fan" of leaflets that gives the plant its common name.W. filifera is native to desert regions of the western USA and Baja Cailfornia, where it grows near watercourses in the Colorado, Mojave and Sonoran deserts. It is said to be increasing its range, possibly due to climate change. In the wild, the skirt of dead leaves may be 40-50 metres above ground, and provides a home for species of birds, including the hooded oriole, Icterus cucllatus.
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