PALM WORTH WAIT­ING FOR

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

The char­ac­ter­is­tic cir­cu­lar and pleated fronds of one of the most beau­ti­ful palms can call Cairns its home. Forests of licuala ram­sayi can be found in the dap­pled shade of most rain­forests. In fact, Kuranda has an amaz­ing for­est of these spec­tac­u­lar fan palms that are know to have been in the one lo­ca­tion for more than 100 years.

Some have ram­bling trunks to a lofty 10 to 12 me­tres. It was quite com­mon to take the rail mo­tor up the range in the early 20th cen­tury to es­cape the heat for a pic­nic un­der these cool­ing and shady fans near the Bar­ron River.

In many of these forests this fan palm is the main player. The spec­ta­cle of one of these forests is like a movie set.

Other sub­stan­tial stands of these licuala palms are at Yarrabah near the sea and are quite typ­i­cal of what forms part of the tourist ex­pe­ri­ence in the Daintree Rain­for­est.

Ing­ham to Cook­town is their na­tive habi­tat. They love the wet soggy, man­grove and river­ine con­di­tions, and tol­er­ate most soils ex­cept sand.

Mis­sion Beach seems to have more forests of licuala. There are plenty of other notable stands up and down the wet trop­ics coast.

It is com­monly called the Cairns fan palm, some­times the Aus­tralian fan palm, to dis­tin­guish it from its cousins from the West­ern Pa­cific and South East Asia, where there are quite a few.

L.spinosa, L.gran­dis (there are many in our gar­dens), L.or­bic­u­laris. In fact, there are about 150 dif­fer­net species around the world.

Young plants need shade and can be grown from seed. As they get older they can tol­er­ate sun as the lam­ina de­vel­ops be­yond the soft­ness of the frond that has been in shade.

The Cairns fan is not a fast grower like some other palms. It can be many years be­fore the glory of its fans adorns a gar­den.

Large spec­i­mens that have been ground grown are an op­tion if you are im­pa­tient and have some spare cash.

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