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Queensland Fan Palm

Licuala ramsayi

Description:

Also known as the Australian Fan Palm and Licuala Palm, this species belongs to the (palm) family Arecaceae, and is an iconic plant of Queensland’s northern rainforests. One of the most cold-tolerant Licuala species and the only one native to Australia. There are two subspecies: Licuala ramsayi ssp. ramsayi and Licuala ramsayi ssp. tuckeri, the latter of which is found further north, including the Torres Strait Islands. Distinctive palm with a single trunk to 20 metres in height, and large pleated leaves forming circles up to 2m in diameter. It's actually the squared-off pleated leaves that I find most distinctive about this species because they look like they've been deliberately cut. Petioles also have formidable spines to 5mm long. A useful plant to Indigenous Australians, these "bush tucker plants" provided an edible cabbage, but were also used as thatch, food wrapping, and cigarette papers (from young leaves).

Habitat:

Endemic to NEQ from about Cooktown, south to about Ingham. The main areas where Licuala ramsayi naturally occurs is near Mission Beach (Licuala Rainforest), Tully, Daintree River and Cape Tribulation. Occurs in swamps, riverbanks, and rainforests. This spotting was at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, Mt. Coot-Tha, in a well-established sub-tropical rainforest section of the gardens.

Notes:

The main photo shows a dead palm. As the leaves dried they curled in on themselves creating this "ball", and it was this that I noticed as I was walking up the path. Due to the drought, many plants in this rainforest have died despite the efforts of horticulturalists and gardeners to water frequently. Water is being pumped around the gardens via the sprinkler systems from the lakes, but nitrogen-rich rainwater is what these plants desperately need. The odd shower here and there does little to alleviate the water shortage.

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3 Comments

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 months ago

Thanks, Single D and Leuba. I have always thought they look like windmills too! I just didn't realise the dead leaves could look like beach balls, because that's what I thought it was when I spotted it by the track. Not just a fluke because there were a couple more just like it!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 3 months ago

Beautifully captured, Neil.

Single D
Single D 3 months ago

I feel like I'm looking at windmills, in that last photograph.

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Spotted on Nov 16, 2018
Submitted on Nov 18, 2018

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