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A Guide to the Common Types of Palm Trees in Australia 

From the tall and majestic Alexandra Palm to the cold-hardy Chinese Windmill, we explore the unique features and care requirements of each species of palm tree that can thrive in Australian gardens.

Palm trees can make a wonderful addition to any Australian garden and they give your landscape a tropical feel. But did you know that there are two different types of palm trees all belonging to the Arecaceae family?

Pinnate palms have leaves, more commonly called fronds, that are soft and feathery. On the other hand, palmate palms have large fronds that resemble fans.

Here are some of the more common types of palm trees that are grown in Australian gardens.

Archontophoenix alexandrae (Alexandra Palm)

Alexander Palm | Plant varieties

The Alexandra palm is an Australian native that grows naturally along the Queensland coast and on the tip of the Cape York Peninsula. It’s a tall-growing palm that has the ability to reach a height of 30 metres. However, it will not usually reach this height when grown in a garden.

This is a pinnate palm with long fronds that can reach a length of 3 metres. The palm also produces white flowers and red fruits. It prefers free-draining soil but is not frost-hardy.

Archontophoenix cunningham (Bangalow Palm)

Bangalow Palm 2 | Plant varieties

This is another pinnate palm that can reach a height of 25 metres. It’s quite similar to the Alexandra palm except that it has a thinner trunk. This one is fast-growing and produces violet-colored flowers and red fruits.

Once established, this palm can tolerate light frosts but it does need to be kept well-watered because it doesn’t like to dry out.

Carpentaria acuminate (Carpenteria Palm)

Carpentaria acuminate | Plant varieties

This majestic palm can grow to a height of 30 metres and has the most amazing smooth trunk. It’s native to the Northern Territory and quite fast-growing. In fact, if grown in ideal conditions, it can reach a mature height in just 6 years.

The pinnate frond on this palm can reach a length of 4 metres. Plus, the palm produces greenish-white flowers and red fruits. This palm needs a little extra care because it’s not drought or frost-hardy. 

Licuala ramsayi (Australian Fan Palm)

Licuala ramsayi | Plant varieties

This attractive palmate palm is native to the rainforests in northern Queensland. This is a slow-growing palm which makes it ideal for growing in a large pot. In its natural environment, it can eventually reach a height of 15 metres.

What is most stunning about this palm is its large fan-shaped leaves that are almost circular and can reach a diameter of up to 2 metres each. It prefers moist soil that is free-draining and needs to be protected from harsh sunlight while young.

Livistona australis (Australian Cabbage Tree)

Livistona australis 1 | Plant varieties

This tall, slender palm is ideal for coastal areas because it can tolerate both frost and salt. It has a lovely tall grey trunk and fronds that can reach a length of 3 metres. It also produces white flowers and red to brown fruits.

In its natural habitat, it can grow to a height of 25 metres. You can grow this palm in a semi-shaded position or in full sun. It likes free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter and relatively moist.

Normanbya normanbyi (Black Palm)

Normanbya normanbyi | Plant varieties

You’ll love the long feathery fronds on this pinnate palm. It’s native to north Queensland and often lives in rainforests. It has a lovely smooth slender trunk that starts out grey and can turn almost black as the plant matures.

This palm also produces white flowers but the fruits are often yellow. It does like a fair amount of humidity and needs regular watering. However, it can handle cold temperatures once it matures.

Phoenix dactylifera (Date Palm)

If you want a palm tree that can also provide you with delicious fruits, then this is the one for you. The date palm is slow-growing and can reach an eventual height of around 30 metres. Another advantage of this palm is its longevity. It can live for up to 150 years.

This beautiful palm loves the heat and free-draining soil. However, it does like to be watered regularly.

Trachycarpus fortunei (Chinese Windmill)

Trachycarpus fortunei | Plant varieties

This attractive palm is perfectly suited to more temperate climates because it is quite cold-hardy. It has large fan-shaped fronds and will only reach a height of around 7 metres. This makes it an ideal garden specimen because it won’t get too large.

It does like moist soil that is free-draining and needs protection from strong winds. 

FAQ

How do I know what kind of palm tree I have?

The best way to identify your palm tree is to look at the trunk, the fronds, and the flowers and fruits. Then, compare these to photos of correctly identified palms to ascertain your palm species.

What is the easiest palm tree to maintain?

The Bangalow palm is one of the easiest species to maintain because it can handle cold temperatures once it’s mature and just needs regular watering so that it doesn’t dry out.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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