Your palm tree questions answered.
Palm trees and tropical gardens must have been all the rage back in the 1980’s, thats why we have a lot of palm trees on the Central Coast of NSW. In this post I will list the the main types of palm trees that are prevalent in the area and discuss the pros and cons of owning palm trees, as well as some tips on their care and maintenance.
Cocos palms. Our Rating 2/10
Cocos palms are of South American origin and probably the most extensively planted palm in suburban NSW, take a look down your street. How many can you count?
PROS: They provide good shade and take up minimal space in your garden. They look great when kept pruned.Very tolerant species that can withstand, hot, dry, wet and cold climates.
CONS: They produce copious amounts of berries (seeds) that drop to the ground. The seeds then ferment and can smell quite bad if not cleaned up. The hard berries can also be a trip hazard on hard surfaces and they can also be a choking hazard for children or pets. The dead fronds on cocos palms do not fall off readily, so they can look unsightly when not pruned. The berries are also a food source for all sorts of animals such as rats, possums and fruit bats (flying foxes), while the nooks and crannies of the palm head are a great home for cockroaches and indian minor birds. The root system of palms can also be quite invasive. I have seen roots from cocos palms in sewer pipes more than four metres from the trunk. The thick mat of roots produced by palm trees can easily lift concrete slabs and retaining walls. Cocos palms are considered a weed species in many Council regions of Australia.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Prune regularly or consider removing a tree and replacing with a native palm such as the bangalow. Avoid planting next to pools, paved or concreted areas.
Bangalow Palms. Our Rating 9/10
Bangalow palms are an Australian native and second only to the cocos palm as the most popular palm in suburban NSW. The Kentia palm is a similar looking tree endemic to Lord Howe Island.
PROS: Native tree. It is self cleaning and looks good all year round. The berries produced are of much less volume than the cocos palm. Bangalow palms will tolerate a range of soil types and climate conditions.
CONS: The berries can be messy and they do attract a lot of bees when flowering (great if you like bees – not so great if you don’t)
RECOMMENDATIONS: Don’t plant too close to pools, pipes or retaining walls. Make sure your arborist prunes them without spikes if possible.
Native Cabbage Tree Palm. Our Rating 9/10
There are two common varieties of cabbage tree palm on the Central Coast NSW, we have the Australia native “livistona australis” and the Californian “washingtonia robusta”.
PROS: The Australian native “livistona australis” is self cleaning cabbage palm – they shed their dead fronds easily, they are a fantastic looking palm. A beautiful stand of them can be found in Pearl Beach NSW.
CONS: They do get quite tall and the dead fronds blow off in the wind. The Californian variety are not self cleaning and they have sharp spikes on their fronds, which can be hazardous when walking by or working on them.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Prune off dead fronds that could be a hazard to people or property underneath. Avoid the “washingtonia” and plant the australian native “livistonia australis”. Plant new trees in an area where they have plenty of room to grow.
Phoenix Palm (Canary Island Date Palm). Our Rating 9/10
Date palms are a large majestic palm best suited to parks or large open spaces, endemic to the Canary Islands in West Africa.
PROS: A land-mark species that certainly makes a statement of size, wealth and power. Quite tolerant to a variety of soil and climate conditions.
CONS: Needs room to grow and plenty of care to maintain its unruly looks. The spikes on the fronds can be quite lethal. They are also a haven for pests such as rats, cockroaches, possums and minor birds.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Keep well pruned to give that classic “pineapple” look. Plant with a vision of size. Keep children away from dead fronds and spikes on new fronds
Do I need Council approval to remove a palm tree?
It is best to check with your local Councils Tree Preservation Order for this advice. I do know that in Gosford and Wyong Shire Councils on the Central Coast of NSW that cocos palms are exempt and do not require approval for tree removal. All other palms will require approval subject to your local Council guidelines.
Can I sell my Palm Trees?
This is a question I often get asked, can I sell my palm trees? Are they worth any money? Large established palm trees are definitely a sought a after item for many new landscape developments. Most common are the larger varieties such as the Cabbage palm and Phoenix palm. But this does not mean the cabbage tree or phoenix palm in your front or back yard is worth any money. Trees are very heavy, and the costs and logistics of transplanting a tree can be huge. Consider this; you will need a large excavator to dig up a large enough root ball for the palm to survive. You will need a crane to lift the palm onto the back of a truck. You will need level ground for the excavator and crane to work on, free of overhead obstructions such as surrounding trees, buildings and power lines. Then you will need a semi trailer to transport the tree – and that is just to start with.
So to answer the question, most palm trees in residential areas are not worth money to a buyer.
All our trees do have a considerable landscape value though. Trees provide screening, shade, wildlife, greening of harsh urban landscapes as well as keeping us in touch with nature, which is the true essence of all living things.