This majestic palm, native to the subtropical wet forests of Australia, is also known as the “Royal Palm”. Widely used as a decorative plant, it is considered invasive in some countries or regions, such as in southern Brazil or New Zealand.
Archontophoenix can be translated by “Chief (arkhon in Greek) of date-palms (phoînix in Greek)”. The species name Cunninghamiana is dedicated to Alan Cunningham, famed English botanist and plant-hunter.
Description and flowering period
This palm tree can grow up to 20 meters in height. It has a grey stipe (a robust erect stem, botanically speaking not a trunk) covered in numerous rings. Its pasture-green pinnate palms (feather-like) can reach 3 meters in length. Its inflorescences are panicles of purple flowers that emerge at the axils of leaves. Its very decorative fruits resemble small red marbles and despite being improper for human consumption, are deeply appreciated by birds.
It requires a rich yet free-draining soil in partial to full shade in humid subtropical locations. It tolerates frosts down to -4°C. Within its natural range, it can be found at elevations of up to 1 000 meters.
Widely used as an ornamental plant in warm climate locations, it is now considered as an invasive species, threatening the local Flora in areas such as Southern Brazil and New Zealand, where steps are being taken to limit its expansion. It is still widely cultivated as an ornamental in Australia, California and Florida as well as on the islands of the Caribbean and Indian Ocean.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN