Trachycarpus fortunei Spelled Out (Left) and with Digital Overlay (Right)
Next up in the Binomen Art series is Trachycarpus fortunei, commonly called Chusan Palm or Windmill Palm. We’ve always used the latter common name. This palm is native to central China. From Quattrocchi: the generic name comes from the Greek trachys meaning “rough” and karpos meaning fruit and refers to the rough surface of the fruits. The specific name honors Robert Fortune, a 19th century Scottish botanist and plant hunter.
The SpecimenWe’ve had this particular palm for over 20 years. For many years it was in a pot where it did not flourish. Only when we put in the ground and ignore it, did it take off. We have yet to see it produce flowers or fruits so we can’t confirm the trachys part of the name. It seems to do well in the Seattle climate with the occasional snow as shown from one of the pictures. T. fortunei is known to be pretty hardy.
The InstallationWe hung the letters from the petioles of one fan. We fastened each of the letters with a single thread taken from the fibrous stem (not a trunk because it lacks true wood structure?). We threaded a needle with a single fiber and made a hole through each letter to suspend it. Weeks later, the “R” and “A” still remain while the other letters have fallen apart.
Trachycarpus fortunei with Snow – Jan 2012
Planning The Spelling