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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.