Alexander Palm vs Bangalow Palm

What’s the difference between these popular palms?

Whenever people are looking to buy a palm tree in Australia they often come across one of two palm trees: the Alexander Palm and the Bangalow Palm.

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between these two palm species? Here’s a comparison and review of each of them.

What is a Bangalow palm?

The Bangalow Palm, or Archontophoenix Cunninghamiana, is a beautiful native palm tree that grows along the central east coast of Australia.

In terms of appearance, it is a slender tree that grows up to 25 metres tall. The Bangalow palm’s violet coloured flowers bloom in midsummer, and the red fruits are attractive to birds. It has evergreen foliage and no spikes or thorns, making it a nice option for a family backyard.

The Bangalow Palm is an easy-to-grow and low-maintenance plant, though you must ensure that it has sufficient water to thrive.

It can grow outside in mild weather, including in Melbourne and Sydney so long it’s protected from cold winds.

What is an Alexander palm?

A favoured choice for landscaping, the elegant Alexander palm grows across southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.

While commonly referred to as the Alexander palm, the correct names are actually:

  • Alexandra palm
  • King palm
  • Northern Bangalow palm
  • Feather palm

Its scientific name is Archontophoenix Alexandrae.

The Alexander palm grows to a height of 30m with a trunk up to 30cm in diameter and has a crown with feather-like fronds that measure 4.5m in length.

It has a solitary trunk, which means it doesn’t branch off into multiple stems.

Alexander palms flower at random times throughout the year. The flowers are creamy-white when first released from the protective sheath that surrounds them, light green as the fruits develop, then brown when they are shed from the tree.

What’s the difference?

Alexander Palms and Bangalows are similar because they are both native Australian rainforest plants. They are so similar, in fact, that their seeds will cross-pollinate.

Also, because the two palms look so similar, many people have a hard time differentiating them.

So, what’s the difference?

Location

The Alexander palm is endemic to Queensland while the Bangalow palm is native to NSW.

However, both varieties can now be found across both states as well as elsewhere in Australia.

Height

Alexander palms grow slightly taller (up to 30 metres) than Bangalow palms (up to 25 metres).

Flowers and leaves

The Alexander palm’s flower is white and its leaf underside is silver. The Bangalow palm’s flower is a lilac/purple colour and its leaf underside is green.

Also, the leaflets on the Alexander are more upright than on the Bangalow.

Looking for the perfect palm?

Check out the guide below from Gardening Australia:

Alexander palm vs Bangalow palm FAQs

Is an Alexander palm the same as a Christmas Palm?

No, an Alexander palm is not the same as a Christmas Palm. The Christmas palm, also called the Manila palm, grows up to 7.6 metres.

How tall do Alexander palms grow?

The Alexander palm grows to a height of 30m.

How quickly do Alexander palms grow?

Alexander palms grow quickly, and under the right conditions, can grow by more than 1m per year.

Are Alexander palms invasive?

In Brisbane, Alexander palms are displacing native Bangalow palms, earning them an environmental weed classification.

How big does a Bangalow palm grow?

Growing up to 25 metres in height, Bangalow palm is an ideal choice for the garden. If allowed to develop in ideal conditions, this plant can reach its full potential height, width, and girth.

How quickly does a Bangalow palm grow?

Bangalow palms grow best in sheltered areas of rich soil, similar to their natural rainforest habitat. They grow fastest when they are young, at 1m per year, but growth slows as they get older. They grow more slowly in cool climates.

Is Bangalow palm an indoor plant?

The bangalow palm is a tall, slender Australian palm. It is popular as an indoor and outdoor ornamental plant. Put indoor Bangalow palms in a well-lit spot and ensure the soil remains moist during summer.