Searching for frost hardy Archontophoenix/Bungalow Palm

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Hi everyone,

I've been on the hunt for plant/seeds of a king palm/bungalow/archontophoenix which had been rumored to withstand frost and freezing temperatures with no reported damage at 23 degrees (Inge Hoffman was stated to have collected seed from the Australian wilds which tested bullet-proof in her garden during the 90/91 freeze in the SF Bay Area). I'm searching for any seed of this palm variety if it exists. I'll be in Australia in March and will do some exploring but I thought I'd throw the idea to the members of this site - any thoughts?

Jeff

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Hi Jeff;

Inge Hoffmann's survivor Archontophoenix has been propagated, and is sold by the Flora Grubb Nursery in SF. Ask for Jason.

As to the wild plants of reputed frost hardiness, this has been discussed on this forum but I can't find it with the search feature. Supposedly, they are not from the higher latitudes ('Illawara'), but a form in northern NSW or southern Queensland. They are inland from the coast and at some elevation in an area with commercial citrus production. The story is that this population survives the rare, serious freeze that badly damages the citrus orchards.

I'm sure that someone on this forum has more specific information.

Welcome aboard, you need to step up your posting,... ONE entry in 22 months ? :)

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HI Jeff:

It's okay to lurk if you like . . . :)

For what it's worth the hardiest Archies I've found are cunninghamniana in general, as well as purpurea. Both took some nasty cold in 2007. Bigger plants take it better. Yearly severe freezes will likely be a disaster, even for the hardiest of them, alas.

How low do you go, Jeff? And, how often?

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Hi Darold and Dave,

Thanks for your replies. You're both right - 22 months = Lurker :) This is a wonderful site! I haven't been on much though. I'm a backyard hobbyist with an affinity for tropicals here in the Bay Area. The archontophoenix or "archie" has always been a favorite of mine. I purchased the Illawarra variety in the late 90's and its been a love/hate relationship ever since... The first purchase were grown in the back yard and they did very well until they grew large enough (about 8') and began to reach above the canopy... they were fried in a heavy frost... the center spear pulled away as they rotted & bit the dust in the early spring. I purchased new seedlings after the first loss (thinking I was sold the wrong variety) as the original Illawarra's were purported to be "cold hardy" vs. cool hardy. Over the years, the same thing has happened... The largest of the original 6 is 15' tall and gets badly fried in any exposure to temperatures below freezing. It just takes one night of cold (and I live in an area where the normal winter temps hit the low 30's every year (Sunset zone 16) and when we get a cold snap - the temps have hit 28-29 and in the great freeze here in 90-91 the temps hit 26 degrees and most everything burnt to a crisp and I fell into depression... After a regular frost, these trees take all year to recover - throwing out 3-4 new fronds in a season only to repeat the process in the following winter. I've learned to cover the trees with blankets, sheets and even a car cover and it has afforded me some success after wrapping the trunks in xmas lights. It was only this winter season that I realized my efforts have become futile - I'm getting too old for this - and this is what spurred me to begin my internet search for something hardier. Having planned a trip to Australia, I'm now trying to figure out a way to score some seed of that rare tree which I've fantasized would be growing in an area far outside the known range or hardiness. If I am lucky enough to find one of these - I'm going to grab as many seeds as possible to share with anyone who shares the same interest.

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Thanks Eric - Is this region known for frosts/regular freezes? I'm curious if there is further information which would support the existence of archontophoenix growing in the area either in the open/exposed areas or under the forest canopy? Soo many questions - but if it exists I will look for seed.

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I've seen -5C at 140m altitude a few hundred kilometres further north but a similar distance inland.

This weather station is located in a nearby town at 500m altitude:

http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=43&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=041056

I'd say that "regular freezes" are a feature of the area :)

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G'day Jeff, Nice research Eric. I dont know exactly which variety would be best for you but there must be some more Aussies out there with further info. Where's the Ratpack at?

Edited by NApalm
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Thanks Eric - You've given me hope that there may be a possibility of finding the elusive frost tolerant variety - that would make my trip! I appreciate any/all advice. I know there are many of my palm growing neighbors who I can share these seeds with as they'd also love to grow a variety of this awesome Australian beauty. G'day NApalm - thanks for your thoughts as well - I welcome the expertise of the Aussies out there and the Ratpak as well.

Jeff

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In older posts several cold locations around the NSW/QSLD border were mentioned as having A. cunninghamniana populations. The Urbenville State Forest in the mountains west of Grafton is discussed the most. Here are the search results for the rest of the topics containing "Urbenville" and within other locations you might want to explore. Good luck.

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Ratpackers,

Please read my comments in post#4 of this thread. http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?/topic/35454-permits-for-seed-collecting-dominican-republic-to-us/?hl=aphis#entry557956

Suppose JeffM does find seeds in a frost-prone area, what are the Australian regulations about shipping seeds out of the country?

Will he be able to send a package out ? Shipping out of the country of origin was a problem that I failed to foresee in Argentina.

I can offer him a few of my pre-addressed permit labels for mailing to the inspection facility near San Francisco, so there would not be a problem on this side of the big pond.

Your advice, please.

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Not an issue. If they aint cites theyre fine!

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In Queensland, Archontophoenix are not a restricted genus for exporting or collecting. Livistona and some others used to be, due to the relative rarity of certain species.

The main restriction these days is that you can be fined for collecting seed without a license in a national park. You technically need written landholder approval as long as the species is not threatened. A. cunninghamiana could hardly be considered even remotely threatened. The main concern would be that you didn't trample another plant to get the the seed, or damage native habitat in the process. The attached document from NSW sums it up pretty well: Don't damage habitat or other plants, don't collect from diseased individuals, collect from at least 10 parent plants to ensure genetic diversity, and don't take all of the seeds that you find.

The intent of the law is to prevent someone from having a negative impact on a local population of a threatened species. Conservation purposes are given special consideration in granting permission to harvest. Queensland limits the number of seeds that you may collect based on the size/weight of the seed. NSW appears to have no such rule.

I would suggest that there would be no harm in contacting the park service by email prior to you trip to see how open they are to the prospect of seed collection. Emphasize non-commercial conservational intent for the collection, assuming you won't be selling the seed. The worst that they can do is say no, in which case you are in the same situation as you would have been if you had collected seed without asking.

SeedCollecting-1.pdf

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Thanks to all for the great information. Let's hope that JeffM revisits this thread ! :winkie:

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Many thanks to everyone for sharing!! This is some really great information. I'm in the process of mapping out my excursion from Sydney to Canberra, Melbourne and Cairnes. Thanks to each of you I've gained a bit more confidence that I have a chance of gathering seed from a true & hardy Australian native. BTW - it was 33 degrees here in the most exposed area of the backyard... anyone else ready for spring to do its thing?

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Update - I have successfully sprouted some seeds harvested from the forest near Urbenville and they appear to be doing well as their growth has not slowed during our cooler and shorter winter days. Although most only have two leaves which have emerged to date, it feels as though they are a bit thicker & less flexible than those on the other seedlings Time will tell how they perform moving forward.

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Interesting...keep us updated.

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Update 12/15/14 - thanks to some inquiries as to how my Urbenville/Yabbra seedlings are progressing --be noted the following in their first year of growth:

* the juvenile leaves appear to be thicker and somewhat more rigid when compared to the seedlings of my other Archontophoenix seedlings of similar age/size.

* the seedlings grew through their first year with a total of four juvenile leaves (the plants are growing outside with shade/protection from all but morning sun for their first year of growth in 1 gallon pots heavily mulched with compost). The seedlings appear to grow at a slightly slower rate when compared to seedlings of an Archontophoenix Palm seeds I harvested from a beautiful specimen tree in the Port Douglas/Cairnes area.

*leaf color is a rich, dark green. As compared to a lighter green color of my other Archontophoenix collected elsewhere. Although still rather small in size I will try to post a pic of what these little seedlings look like.

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Here's a pic

post-5638-0-87439200-1418701701_thumb.jp

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Nice Jeff

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So, Jeff, where in the Bay Area are you and how do I convince you to part with some of those seedlings? :mrlooney:

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Hello Jeff.

How high was the elevation where you collected the seed? Did you find the seeds in Mount Barney National Park?

Thanks for making this excursion. I hope you made a great find that will result in a cold-hardy archontophoenix that will eventually be disseminated from coast to coast. I am waiting for the ultimate 18 degree (F) archontophoenix cunninghamiana, although that probably does not exist anywhere. Inge Hoffman's tree allegedly defoliated when a record 22 degrees Fahrenheit hit her region. However, I understand that it recovered afterwards.

I will keep this thread pegged because the real test will come over the next few years when your trees are growing under real outdoor conditions and are exceeding your overhead tree canopy.

Thanks.

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Hello JeffM. Have you had the chance to make any cold-hardiness experiments from the seed that you collected in March 2013?

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Hi Sandy,,

I found the seeds in the Yabbra National Forest area - it's in a hilly, somewhat mountainous area just about 20 minutes south of Urbenville. The specific tree I secured the seeds from was in an open area in the vicinity of some huge eucalyptus trees down the road from many of which the trunks were of greater circumference than my small 4 door rental car ;). But they were at least 100 yards.away from this parent bangalow - it was a two lane logging road and I chose this tree because it appeared to grow in an open/exposed situation which lacked any canopy for protection from temperature extremes.

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As far as temperature experiments - I had the seedlings exposed to a freak 26-27 degree low in December, 2013 with no damage - although I was in Atlanta during that time so I can't confirm how much if any frost had formed on the newly emerged leave. The seedlings also have withstood 102 degree temps in full sun last summer on a concrete patio with no burning although the experimental group did have a lighter green color vs. the control group growing in dappled shade/sun. They are now planted in ground with crossed fingers here.

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Hey guys I'm new to this forum having signed up after seeing some of your posts. I live in The north of New Zealand but not along the relatively mild coasts but in the largest inland city of Hamilton. Although it's only and hour south of auckland and not much above sea level it does have a more continental climate due to the lack of significant water bodies influencing the climate. Whilst Auckland rarely ever gets below freezing, Hamilton commonly does and is typically around 7 degrees C colder at night. We expect winter night temps to get to -5C (23F) most winters . The city is well known for its fog and lack of wind and holds the record for the lowest temperature of any of the major cities in NZ (even Dunedin). Archontophoenix cunninghamiana are commonly grown here given the access to plants grown in Auckland. I have a large one (approx 10m or 30 ft) that has seen -7C nights in and exposed location and is fine, had  -4C night yesterday and there is some visible damage but not much compared to my native broadleaf trees.

i suspect the difference here is duration of freezing compared to continental locations but nonetheless the extremes you talk of don't tend to trouble these palms. They grow in these conditions much better than the native Nikau which is known to tolerate a mild frost but the Archies will tolerate a medium. 

the palm at my family's house sets seed regularly and we are constantly pulling seedlings out. It is only a matter of time before our council does like auckland and investigates banning propagation. I have some 100 seedlings in pots now growing that I need to get rid of. I have no idea what type of Archie it is but it seems to tolerate the extreme cold almost as well as the commonly grown Queen palms.

i also have a dypsis baronii I've been growing outside for 4 years and it is unharmed by -5C nights and is not very sheltered either.

Edited by HASNZ38S
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4 hours ago, HASNZ38S said:

Hey guys I'm new to this forum having signed up after seeing some of your posts. I live in The north of New Zealand but not along the relatively mild coasts but in the largest inland city of Hamilton. Although it's only and hour south of auckland and not much above sea level it does have a more continental climate due to the lack of significant water bodies influencing the climate. Whilst Auckland rarely ever gets below freezing, Hamilton commonly does and is typically around 7 degrees C colder at night. We expect winter night temps to get to -5C (23F) most winters . The city is well known for its fog and lack of wind and holds the record for the lowest temperature of any of the major cities in NZ (even Dunedin). Archontophoenix cunninghamiana are commonly grown here given the access to plants grown in Auckland. I have a large one (approx 10m or 30 ft) that has seen -7C nights in and exposed location and is fine, had  -4C night yesterday and there is some visible damage but not much compared to my native broadleaf trees.

i suspect the difference here is duration of freezing compared to continental locations but nonetheless the extremes you talk of don't tend to trouble these palms. They grow in these conditions much better than the native Nikau which is known to tolerate a mild frost but the Archies will tolerate a medium. 

the palm at my family's house sets seed regularly and we are constantly pulling seedlings out. It is only a matter of time before our council does like auckland and investigates banning propagation. I have some 100 seedlings in pots now growing that I need to get rid of. I have no idea what type of Archie it is but it seems to tolerate the extreme cold almost as well as the commonly grown Queen palms.

i also have a dypsis baronii I've been growing outside for 4 years and it is unharmed by -5C nights and is not very sheltered either.

Wow, -7C is the lowest temp I've ever heard of an Archontophoenix surviving! 

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You could probably could sell a few...........

.thousand :) here on PT if you had the desire to do so.

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On 10 July 2016 1:36:43 pm, Alicehunter2000 said:

You could probably could sell a few...........

.thousand :) here on PT if you had the desire to do so.

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Sorry, my earlier reply failed for some reason.

the record low in Hamilton is -9.9C but I'm pretty confident no Archies are of an age here that they would have experienced that and I wouldn't expect temperature to get that low again in my lifetime. But yes -7C has occurred in the lifetime of the Palm at my Family's property (from memory I think it was -6.7C). An update on the -4C night just over a week ago, no damage to the Archie's at all. My native broadleaf trees got nailed, as did my native tree fern.

in terms of selling them, they are not worth anything here in NZ because they are super common and easy to grow (most of the population lives in auckland or in coastal locations in the North Island), I cant even give them away. New Zealand's strict quarantine laws make it difficult to both import and export plant material, hence I have no idea what form the Archie's are but our garden centres don't distinguish to that level (only say one may be Bangalow, the other King). That might be because of strict rules about importing, but they have been grown in NZ for at least 50 years and maybe the gene pool is fairly limited although it is quite evident that some look more attractive than others.

Edited by HASNZ38S
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Thought I'd share a couple of pics of the Archie at my family's house. Has weathered many a cold night in a pretty exposed location (down to almost -7C and never noticed much damage, it is currently mid winter and he have had one night at -4C) . I keep having to remove the seedlings which sprout up every year. Have potted a good 100 of them a few years back and all have experienced -5C nights with no problem.

the exposed location does make for ugly palms... Although even the more sheltered ones aren't particularly pretty.

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Some more from down the road at the shops:

image.jpg

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@HASNZ38S I really think you should try and send some seeds of these trees to us in cooler climates!  ;)

I'm not sure of the legality of it all but perhaps @Bennz could give some advice?

I'm not hopeful that most of us in the UK would be able to grow these, but surely in protected coastal climates and perhaps inner-London gardens, they'd be worth a shot!?

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It's very impressive their resistance. It's a pity you can't export it, I'ld be pleased to get some seeds to experiment in my climate. Anyway, thanks to tell us about your experience with this palm :greenthumb:

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I still think there is a reason why they can handle the temperature here where it gets a little colder than people say they should be able to take.

Hamilton is very humid and daytime temperature are always in the double digits C all year round. Although it can get cold and frosty, the frost is for short duration. For example, Taupo further inland gets just as cold but the frost may still be present at mid-day on occasions. There are no Archies in Taupo. In hamilton it is usually all but gone by 9am. I would estimate that temperatures are in the negative C for max of 6 hours and on the rare occasion a little longerr.

exporting or importing plant material is a difficult task here in NZ... For good reason. 

Going by the number of seedlings all over the place at my parents house I'm sure they will soon ban the sale of these palms here. There is no way they can continue when a palm reproduces like this so prolifically. 

Edited by HASNZ38S
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56 minutes ago, HASNZ38S said:

I still think there is a reason why they can handle the temperature here where it gets a little colder than people say they should be able to take.

 

exporting or importing plant material is a difficult task here in NZ... For good reason. 

Going by the number of seedlings all over the place at my parents house I'm sure they will soon ban the sale of these palms here. There is no way they can continue when a palm reproduces like this so prolifically. 

 

 

Take a look at the temps in Batemans Bay NSW 

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/201607/html/IDCJDW2011.201607.shtml

In July the temp was recorded  on 22 days, and of those the min. was below 5C 12 times. The absolute coldest recorded night  was 0.5C, but july 2015 it got down to -2.1C. Admitedly the BB daytimes are warmer than NZ, but the lows are more important than the highs for survival. Batemans Bay is right on the coast, bangalow plams occur inland a bit where it presumably gets colder. The point here is that bangalow palms is climatically appropriate for coastal NI NZ, so no wonder it grows well here. Well grown in shelter they look as good here as they do in habitat. A. alexandrae is certainly nicer though. Still looking for seeds of those from NZ (I don't want to pay the price of Biosecurity clearance for imported seed!).

 

Personally I am not too stressed about them becoming weeds. Their ecological role is a little different from nikau, requiring more light than nikau. My belief is that if a forest was established with bangalow and nikau planted together the resulting dense shade would eventually kill out the Archontophoenix once the adults reached full maturity and died, leaving a nikau forest. I see bangalow as a potential primary coloniser for nikau, liking similar habitats but requiring more light. It's amazing how few of the carpet of seedlings under bangalow palms reach maturity, either in NSW habitat or here in NZ.

 

I don't think there is any issue about exporting seeds from NZ as long as the requirements of the importing country are met. 

 

You might not like archies, but there are much worse choices for NZ, eg Trachycarpus! 

 

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9 hours ago, Bennz said:

 

 

Take a look at the temps in Batemans Bay NSW 

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/201607/html/IDCJDW2011.201607.shtml

In July the temp was recorded  on 22 days, and of those the min. was below 5C 12 times. The absolute coldest recorded night  was 0.5C, but july 2015 it got down to -2.1C. Admitedly the BB daytimes are warmer than NZ, but the lows are more important than the highs for survival. Batemans Bay is right on the coast, bangalow plams occur inland a bit where it presumably gets colder. The point here is that bangalow palms is climatically appropriate for coastal NI NZ, so no wonder it grows well here. Well grown in shelter they look as good here as they do in habitat. A. alexandrae is certainly nicer though. Still looking for seeds of those from NZ (I don't want to pay the price of Biosecurity clearance for imported seed!).

 

Personally I am not too stressed about them becoming weeds. Their ecological role is a little different from nikau, requiring more light than nikau. My belief is that if a forest was established with bangalow and nikau planted together the resulting dense shade would eventually kill out the Archontophoenix once the adults reached full maturity and died, leaving a nikau forest. I see bangalow as a potential primary coloniser for nikau, liking similar habitats but requiring more light. It's amazing how few of the carpet of seedlings under bangalow palms reach maturity, either in NSW habitat or here in NZ.

 

I don't think there is any issue about exporting seeds from NZ as long as the requirements of the importing country are met. 

 

You might not like archies, but there are much worse choices for NZ, eg Trachycarpus! 

 

Yeah I agree, the taller seedlings must be 3 years old now. I potted some from the same age when they first came up and they are onto their second multi leaf frond... They seem to sit there stationary for ages unles they are given room and light then they shoot off.

still didn't address my query as to why they seem to deal with the cold here in Hamilton with little or no damage down to below what others say they can handle... Although much of NZ is not far from the coast there are sharp regional differences. Hamilton is inland (largest inland city) at roughly 38m above sea level. Our night time temperatures are way lower than say auckland or Tauranga and frosts are very common and sometimes pretty bad (much much greater number of frost days per year). The temperature profile is nowhere near as mild as Wellington or other coastal areas and the difference between night min and day max can be considerable by North Island standards. This winter aside, most winters have -5C are temp (ground temp will be even colder) and I have experienced -7C here. The record is -9.9C... Much colder than all other main cities in NZ (see my link in my earlier post)

My my theory is duration of freeze which is short and always followed by a daytime temperature into the double digits + high humidity. I suspect the stress of slightly longer freezes in continental areas and cooler days does the damage. The coldest daytime maximum in the past 20 years was 7C in the 1990's in Hamilton and rarely will it get below 11C for a daytime max in winter.

Edited by HASNZ38S
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Hi HAS,   

 

 

Actually I did try to answer that question, but I was not clear. Batemans Bay gets to -2C,  so inland it probably gets a lot colder. Much further north in NE NSW where my in-laws live it gets very cold too. My bro-in-law is the guy who checks the temp stats for BOM at Urbenville, he's recorded -8C there. So basically right across the natural range of bangalow palms we can find cold nights in chilly spots. So no real surprise if they handle cold in NZ.

The highest elevation sites in NSW where these things grow would also have cool days, as well as some cold nights. I've seen them a good way up the Gibralter Range for example, where mean minimum in winter must be around 0C, and days can be below 10C at times. On the summit of Bar Mountain in the Border Ranges there are bangalows. My in-laws farm is about half an hours drive away, and on very cold days has been known to get highs around 12C. Considering Bar Mt. is over 1000m higher elevation it is quite possible these cold days are maxing around 6C. Certainly I've been up there at times and felt like dying form cold was quite feasible. So again habitat includes cold days.

But as you say, all these examples are short duration cold. I've seen mangos badly damaged by cold in a frost hollow in Lismore (NSW) at -6C that 6 months later looked almost untouched. I've seen mangos at my place dead at 4C.  The overall warmth of the subtropics cant be replicated in NZ. Mangos are tropical plants that can grow in the subtropics and mild warm temperate areas. I think bangalow is a true warm temperate palm that also occurs in the subtropics. For us to grow bangalows is not a stretch at all, the climates are not that dissimilar. Growing them in UK or far N of PNW is a different challenge altogether.

I don't understand why some people talk aboujt these palms not handling -2C etc. They seem much hardier than that. Although I admit there are some frost-blasted specimens in Hastings at present.

 

Yeah funny the climate differences. Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne and Napier all have pretty similar mean temperature figures and similar mean annual air temperature, but the experience of visiting (and presumably living) in these towns is quite different. Archontophoenix grow well in all areas, but you don't find many seedlings occurring in Napier. This suggests to me the essential summer moisture for these things to become weedy is somewhere between the mean rainfall figures for Napier and Gisborne, ie somewhere between 750-1000mm. I'm only 45kms from Napier but with the slightly higher rainfall and complete lack of frost bangalow seedlings occur here fairly regularly. I like them!

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13 hours ago, HASNZ38S said:

I still think there is a reason why they can handle the temperature here where it gets a little colder than people say they should be able to take.

Hamilton is very humid and daytime temperature are always in the double digits C all year round. Although it can get cold and frosty, the frost is for short duration. For example, Taupo further inland gets just as cold but the frost may still be present at mid-day on occasions. There are no Archies in Taupo. In hamilton it is usually all but gone by 9am. I would estimate that temperatures are in the negative C for max of 6 hours and on the rare occasion a little longerr.

exporting or importing plant material is a difficult task here in NZ... For good reason. 

Going by the number of seedlings all over the place at my parents house I'm sure they will soon ban the sale of these palms here. There is no way they can continue when a palm reproduces like this so prolifically. 

Bangalow have been in nz more than 100yrs and many old specimens are around Parnell area.Some area forms perform differently ie weather wise like Wollongong form and gene wise like some have a new red leaf and others forms don't.There at present are no restrictions on importing or exporting seeds of these but nz phyto is very expensive..I doubt the ARC will ban them for sometime but they are still under observation on a 5yr plan then they will review again.Like Ben can tell you I have collected 100s of 1000s of these seeds over the years and they don't pose a weed threat really.as they canbe controlled.Pic is very old specimens in Alberon park.20yrs ago I use to collect seeds off these but ever then needed a 30ft ladder,This batch of them have new reddish leaf

SANY7010.JPG

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      And, there are other Archies left, so they're in no danger of extinction.

    • Up on the Housetop in La Habra, California
      By DoomsDave
      Howdyall
      As long as I'm able, I'll climb my ladder onto my roof and take a few palmy pictures.
      This is for 2016. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, and happy New Year.
      Butch the Roystonea regia, and Butch and Alfalfa

    • Archontophoenix maxima before and after
      By DoomsDave
      Here's an Archie maxima in June of 2008, and today.