Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm

Alcune palme racchiuse da una siepe di bosso presenti nell’antica Corte nobile di Villa Crivelli Pusterla (Fototeca ISAL, Fotografia di Anna Zaffaroni)
Some palm trees among the vegetation of the garden of Villa Crivelli Pusterla in Limbiate (ISAL Photo Archive, photograph by G. Defilippis)

After entering garden of Villa Pusterla Crivelli in Limbiate, and passing the entrance porch on the west side that connects the two towers overlooking the building, you go into what was once the noble courtyard. Here one can see some exotic palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) with fibrous stalks and leathery fan leaves enclosed by flowerbeds bordered by small boxwood hedges trimmed geometrically.

The genus Trachycarpus belongs to the Arecaceae (palm) family. It is characterized by a trunk covered with dense brown fibres (the old leaf sheaths) from which they develop; they have long petioles in the upper part of the trunk that normally tip with age and start to hang. These carry large and shiny fan leaves which are segmented halfway; its leaves can reach up to a meter in size.
The Trachycarpus plants are dioecious (rarely hermaphroditic) with female and male specimens distinguishable for the type of flowering. The flowers, in fact, are grouped in inflorescence cobs, pendants which are yellow for male flowers, and green for female flowers. The different colour schemes attract insects favouring, in this way, pollination and the existence of the species itself.
The blackish fruits come in a bunch and each contains a single seed. Seed dispersal in nature takes place both by birds that eat the berries and pollination by wind.
The transformations that have characterized the properties of the historic Villa Crivelli Pusterla in Limbiate and the continuous functional adaptations of its gardens, which were modified for aesthetic and curative reasons, led to the creation of spurious areas, where exotic species such as palms are mixed with the lime trees typical of the Lombard plain. The paths inside the property open to the public offer visitors charming views, which confirm the glorious past of the park. Stone seats inspire rest and reading, and ruins of destroyed or forgotten buildings sum up the scenario where one can experience the persistence of a glorious past capable of showing solitary exotic plants behind wrought-iron gates. Palm trees are slow-growing plants, very durable, and very well suited to our climate, so much so that they sometimes become invasive. An example of spontaneous growth and adaptation of this tree species is the presence of a small specimen growing in the recess of a massive plane tree that is located within the original, formal 19th century garden.