Cabbage Tree Palm

Livistona australis

Family: Arecaceae Origin: Eastern Australia
One of the more characteristic looks of this palm that many might be familiar with is the constant shedding of dead fronds that hang low and brown from the crown. They usually need to be removed by an arborist, as the tree will retain these dead fronds. However, many people don’t mind and accept it as part of the “look” of the Cabbage Tree Palm. This palm’s other fantastic traits make this small quality of the palm a non-issue, even sometimes an accepted part of its endearing nature.
The young leaves have been enjoyed by many as a cabbage substitute and are very edible. The fronds have been used to make many things, including roofs and hats. The bark used to be made into fishing line by native peoples. It is one of the most common, native palms in Australia and is loved by many- and has been for a very long time.

Arboriculture

Growth Form

This palm can reach very tall heights, around 30 metres or more. Its long naked drunk is topped by a ovate form of live leaves and flowers/fruits at the top of oval and dead brown dried material in the bottom of the oval shape. Overall, this tall palm has a pleasing shape that is uniform. If the dead branches and leaves are removed, this palm sports an open, arching form that is very attractive and pleasing, wholly not unusual and very unassuming for a large palm. They often bear flowers and fruit, making them very attractive.

Trunk

The trunk is always naked and narrow, long and thin. Brown in color, it bears leaf scars going all the way to the top where the foliage is retained.

Flowering

This palm can be either male or female (dioecious). It flowers all year long and bears spikes of white flowers.

Foliage

The fronds of this palm are green and shiny, measuring about 4 metres long. They aren’t self-cleaning so either need removing or bearing with. The edge of their fronds can be sharp though they don’t have spikes or thorns.

Fruits

Only female Cabbage Tree Palms bear fruit. The fruits are red and turn black when they’re ripe.

Management

Propagation

This tree is best started from fresh seed. Removing the outer flesh of ripe fruit and planting the seeds immediately can result in baby cabbage palms in short order. When young, this palm grows very fast.

Cultivation

This palm is widely adaptive to many growing habitats, but does best where it has access to plenty of water and lots of sunlight. In its native habitat, the Cabbage Palm tree grows best along coastlines and riverbanks, making it very tolerant of winds and salt spray. After it reaches some height, removing the dead and drooping branches clean can be an expensive and slightly risky endeavor, so many people choose to leave them be on the tree. This palm is often planted along roadsides and in urban settings as they are very tolerant of poor air quality, and despite their apparent messy appearance when not cleaned up by an arborist, they retain and hold onto their parts and don’t require a lot of cleaning up after, making them ideal, native, urban trees.

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Comments

  1. Sally says

    Hi,
    I live about 3 hours south of Sydney. We have palms in our yard (cabbage palms, I think), and I have been told that the berries (seeds?) have caused more baby palms to grow. All over our yard! We must have well over 100 palms growing, some are only about 10cm tall, some almost a metre. I am wondering what is the best thing to do? Dig them out and sell them? Or are they just like weeds and won’t really turn into true tall palms? Please may I have some advice, it would be much appreciated!

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