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What is a Bangalow Palm?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Images By: n/a, Lesniewski
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2016
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The bangalow palm, classified under the scientific name Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, is a tall and slender evergreen palm tree with feather-shaped green leaves. Also known as the king palm or piccabeen palm, it belongs to the Arecaceae family, the family of palms. It is often confused with A. alexandrae, or the alexander palm, but it is much hardier. Growing at an average rate of 1 to 3 feet (0.3 to 0.9 m) every year, it can reach more than 66 feet (20 m) tall under cultivation and around 82 feet (25 m) in the wild.

Measuring about 1 foot (0.3 m) in diameter, its slender trunk is smooth and ringed with noticeable leaf scars. Forming at the base of the petioles is a prominent green to brown crownshaft from which the leaves flare out. The large and pinnate leaves are green in color and can have brown scales on their undersides. These leaves can grow up to 10 feet (3 m) long and 5 feet (1.5 m) wide. The bangalow palm produces lavender flowers that bloom in June before turning into green fruits that become red when they mature.

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A native of the northern to central eastern regions of Australia, the bangalow palm is abundant especially in the areas from New South Wales to the York Peninsula. It naturally occurs in rainforests or wet montane locations. This palm tree prefers a cool or mild climate with no drastic change in day and nighttime temperatures. It is hardy and can survive freezing temperatures down to about 25 ºF (-4 ºC).

This palm tree is propagated via seeds, which should be sown as soon as possible, as they do not store well. Seeds or seedlings are best planted in gravel or stony soil that is consistently moist and has good drainage. In terms of its location, it will live whether there’s full sun exposure or partial shade. This palm can be grown indoors as a house or conservatory plant as long as it has a good light source. When planted outdoors, it should be in an area where it is protected from the wind, as it can tear the leaves out.

Aside from Australia, the bangalow palm is also a popular commercial landscaping palm in other parts of the world, such as the state of California in the United States. While it is often desired as an ornamental garden specimen, it can be easily naturalized at the detriment of plants native to an area. For example, in several regions of Brazil, it has become well established in the wild, forming dense clumps that exclude the native vegetation.

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