The chusan palm or windmill palm is kind, not very tall but slender in proportions, native to China and Japan. The Greek name derives from trachys, rude or coarse, and karpos that means fruit, due to the shape of the fruits of some species.
The specific name is dedicated to Scottish explorer and botanist Robert Fortune (1812-1880). Authentic 'plant hunter' traveled throughout China dressed like a native, risking his life in an attempt to gather information on the cultivation and tea making process, at that time the best kept secret in China, that he finally revealed without speaking a word of any of the languages of China. Fortune introduced in the West about 120 plants like kumquat or lonicera fragrantissima, also present in the gardens of the Real Alcázar.
However it was not Fortune who, in 1830, brought this tree to Europe but a no less curious character, Dr. Philipp von Siebold (1796-1866) of German origin. Being young, von Siebold was dazzled by the achievements of Alexander von Humboldt and decided to leave for the East, embarking with Dutch trading companies. In Japan he gradually succeeded in winning the trust of the locals and to set up a school of medical studies at a time when Japan was closed to foreigners and their movements around the country were almost banned. By creating this medical school, he is considered the first person who practiced and unveiled western medicine in the East. His daughter Kusumoto Ine also was the first woman doctor in Japan.