Bye bye bangalow

But what do we have here?

The Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, commonly known as Bangalow Palms, are no more. We have been talking about cutting them down for several years and we have finally done it. The first we felled in the recent clean-up after Cyclone Dovi. It was in an area with a huge mess to be dealt with  already and it seemed the right time to get rid of it. Zach dropped the second one this week.

This is just the very top of a pretty tall bangalow

I say we had two but really, we had two very tall specimens – and eleventy thousand seedlings. They were handsome enough with a tropical jungle look and posed no problems until they started setting seed. And boy do they set seed.

The bangalows had very straight trunks with an attractive enough top knot but they were outstripping even the extension ladder. We have better options we can grow.

For the first few years, Mark would get out the extension ladder and cut the seed off. But they kept growing taller to somewhere around 12 or 15 metres and we kept growing older; this approach was not exactly sustainable. We decided they were expendable. I am sick of weeding out all the bangalow seedlings.

We see them here, we see them there. We see those pesky seedlings everywhere.
It will take a few years to eliminate the last of the seeds

Archontophoenix cunninghamiana is an Australian palm from northern New South Wales. By my definition, native plants in their natural environment, or even just in their homeland, are not weeds. Seedlings can be surplus to requirements. I never describe our native nikau palm or even pongas (tree ferns) as weeds even though we have an abundance of them that we regularly thin out. They belong here.

Just a few leftovers from the massive seed set from the last season.

Introduced plants are different. I see Brazil has a major problem with the bangalow outcompeting some of their native species and I think we are on a similar track in this country. Because it is so widely grown and sold commercially, that horse has probably bolted already. However, this does not stop us from taking responsibility for our own plants and stopping them from spreading. They will colonise much faster than our nikau palm (Rhopalostylis sapida).

Weed though it is, those flower racemes are pretty

I have seen more than enough of their seedheads over the years – huge amounts of red berries that are attractive to our native fruit-eating birds, particularly kereru, so spread widely by them. I can not say I had ever noticed their flowers before because they are so high up. Zach reverently carried over their flowers to show me. I say reverently because, weed or not, the flowers are exquisite in form and colour. Nature can be beautiful in so many different ways.

8 thoughts on “Bye bye bangalow

  1. tonytomeo

    Gee, I wish I could grow them that easily. Apparently, they want a heating pad. I got a flat of seed here that I might get a heating pad for, as they have done nothing for months. Enough germinate in the Los Angeles region for them to almost naturalize. They have naturalized in a riparian canyon in Beverly Hills, but will not venture far from it.

      1. tonytomeo

        Well, eleventy thousand might be a bit excessive, and might make me less fond of them. Eleventeen or so would be awesome! However, even then, they would not be as happy here as in other regions. I intend to bring a few back from Los Angeles, but they grow slowly here, and can get somewhat shabby over winter. They dislike the cool weather inland, but also dislike the wind on the coast. This situation is sort of in between. I grew a single specimen in a large pot for many years, and it was quite pretty, almost like a big houseplant on the patio. Unfortunately, it got severely frosted, and then died before it could generate new foliage.

  2. Patricia Deveraux

    I’m noticing a similar sprouting of Phoenix palm seeds this year down in Masterton

  3. Paddy Tobin

    Not one I’ve seen at all and I’m sure it is very beautiful but such a pity it can become a pest. By the way, I misread the title and thought there was some serious demolition in hand – Bye bye bUngalow!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Paddy! I live in the homeland of the bungalow! Way more common than two storied houses (and more than two stories is very rare).


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