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Feather Leaf Palms for New Zealand.

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Feather-leaf palms are best known as the classic palm tree familiar to all as an icon of the tropics. They tend to have tall trunks and crowns of graceful fronds which blow in the wind. Despite this broad description however there is considerable variation within feather leaf palms. Scientifically such palms are known as pinnate.

Detail of a Jucara Palm leaf (Euterpe edulis) Tougher feather leaf Jelly Palm (Butia capitata) Graceful feather leaf fronds of a collection of King Palms (Archontophoenix alexandrae) Crown of the Majesty Palm (Ravenea rivularis)

Our pick of the best feather leaf palms for New Zealand are:

 

Soft

Archontophoenix alexandrae (King Palm)

Chamaedorea cataractarum (Cascade Palm)

Chamaedorea microspadix (Bamboo Palm)

Dypsis baronii (Sugar Cane Palm)

Euterpe edulis (Juçara Palm)

Howea forsteriana (Kentia Palm)

Ravenea rivularis (Majesty Palm)

Syagrus romanzoffiana (Queen Palm)

 

Hard

Numerous species of Phoenix (in particular the Date Palm, Phoenix dactylifera)

Butia capitata (Jelly Palm)

If you have the right climate (and most parts of New Zealand will support at least one or two species of feather leaf palms) then these palms will just transform your garden into the tropics. What is perhaps surprising to many is that you need not only choose from the rainforest look but also from a range of feather-leafed palms that provide the perfect structure for a desert or Mediterranean garden.

Broadly (and quite unscientifically) speaking we divide pinnate palms into two types: soft and hard. Soft feather leaf palms are the grassy-leaved palms, often tall and thin with a rainforest appearance. Typical examples include Bangalow, Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, and Queen Palms, Syagrus romanzoffiana.

 

Hard feather leaf palms have stiffer leaves, are usually stouter (although most do produce considerable trunks over time) and have more of a Mediterranean appearance. Date palms (Phoenix sp.) and Jelly Palms (Butia capitata) are typical examples of hard feather-leafed palms.