20 April 2006

Manly Cabbage Tree Palms

At Dee Why beach they are removing 51 weedy palms (Washingtonia robusta) from their beachside park "…in response to community pressure and the demand for more space as Dee Why's cafe culture and apartment population flourished." The apparent reasons given are that the foreign palms have "sharp and serrated trunks" and "spikes" which are "…a serious safety threat to children". No statement was made if they would be replaced by endemic/local plants. This foreign palm species is also often planted in sub-urbia, harbouring vast amounts of Indian Mynas (pest) and being know to be a 'dirty' palm as it drops things in profusion.

The local Cabbage Tree Palm (Livistona australis) on the other hand used to grow in thick groves on beaches and gullies in the area of the Kay-ye-my clan. After invasion, the 30 m tall trunks were utilised for building, the glossy green fan-tail leaves for weaving and the centre, the 'cabbage' was fed to the pigs. Soon all was used up and only the names remain. Recently Shelley Beach and the Marine Parade had mature palms planted which are struggling to re-establish themselves.
The worry is - yes, they have spikes and yes, leaves fall occasionally, and yes, there is never enough space for all the people of 'café culture'. How did the children and guardians of the indigenous culture deal with spikes and falling leaves? Cut em all down? By that logic one would have to take all the killing vehicles off the roads first.
Picture of Cabbage Tree Palms at Shelley Beach with most bottom leaves removed.

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