PALM WORTH WAITING FOR
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.