Saturday, May 23, 2009

Piccabeen Palm

Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
The piccabeens are creeping up the hill, at Ravensbourne.
The seeds must have been appreciating all the wet weather we’ve had this summer, because the seedlings are coming up in their thousands in parts of the forest where there are very few mature adults. So we can see the forest in the National Park, which I’m told was logged will bulldozers in the thirties, slowly building up to the mature rainforest it wants to be.
Piccabeens have been given this name in Queensland because it was the name used by the aboriginal tribes in the Brisbane area. Further south, another native name, “bangalow palm” is preferred.
When mature, Piccabeens produce huge bunches of lilac flowers followed by bright orange fruits, which are eaten by birds. The heavy spathes open to reveal the flowers, and then fall off. These were once used as water containers, and were called “pickies” by Brisbane aborigines. Their potential for ornamental use in a water garden is obvious!
Piccabeens are our only large local palm, and can grow to 25 metres in sheltered gullies. They are resistant to light frosts, and drought hardy once established, which makes them the best choice of palm for a local garden.
They look their best planted in multiples. If you are prepared to nurse them through their first few years, they will reward you with a “rainforest look - perhaps planted with other drought hardy rainforest plants such as celerywoods (Polyscias elegans), black beans (Castanospermum australe) and lacebark trees (Brachychiton discolor).
Fast-growing plants all, and all able to withstand light frosts, these are good starter plants for a rainforest garden in the Toowoomba district.


Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia - I think the botanical name of this should be
Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
(H.Wendl. & Drude)and I think page 10 and 11 of your book has the species listed wrongly. You have the Hoop Pine as Araucaria cunninghamiana (should be cunninghamii)and the Piccabeen as Archontophoenix cunninghamii (should be cunninghamiana).
Love your blog and all the interesting facts you share with us. Looking forward to your next book!

Patricia Gardner said...

You're dead right, Mrs Horty. I'll sneak in and correct that!
I think I have Proiphys (cunninghamii) and Casuarina (cunninghamiana) correct.
Good old Cunningham!