Cocos palm

Syragrus romanzoffiana
Tree
Whorled
Fern-like
Yellow
Green

A large palm tree with a single smooth grey trunk growing up to 20 m tall. Its massive leaves can reach up to 5 m in length on mature trees. These leaves consist of a thick main stalk and numerous (300-500) very long leaflets (up to 1 m long and 3 cm wide).its large branched flower clusters (up to 2 m long) contain numerous small yellowish or cream-coloured flowers. The stalkless flowers are borne in groups of three, one flower in each group being female and the other two being male. Its egg-shaped fruit (2.5-3 cm long) from green to yellow and then orange when fully mature.

Common names 
Also known as: Cocos palm, butia palm, feathery coconut, giriba palm , queen palm,
Family 
Arecaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Spring - Summer
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to South America (i.e. eastern Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay).
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
Class R – Reduce populations
Known distribution 

This species is become widely naturalised in the eastern parts of Australia, particularly in sub-tropical regions. It is most widespread and common in south-eastern Queensland and is possibly also naturalised in the coastal districts of northern New South Wales. It has also recently been recorded as naturalised in tropical northern Queensland. Also naturalised overseas in south-eastern USA (i.e. Florida).

Habitat 

A weed of roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, watercourses (i.e. riparian areas) and urban bushland in sub-tropical and tropical regions.

Habit 

A large palm tree with a single trunk growing up to 20 m tall.

Impact and control methods 

Cocos palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) is regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland due to its ability to prolifically reproduce creating thick carpets of seedlings that outcompete recruiting native species.

Stem and leaves 

The trunk is smooth and grey, usually about 30 cm wide, with widely spaced rings (i.e. horizontal leaf scars). The massive leaves can reach up to 5 m in length on mature trees. These leaves consist of a thick main stalk, with a large stem-clasping base (i.e. sheath), and numerous (300-500) very elongated leaflets. Each of the green strap-like leaflets is up to 1 m long and to 3 cm wide. These hairless (i.e. glabrous) leaflets have entire margins and pointed tips (i.e. acute apices). They are borne in different planes, giving the leaves a three-dimensional, feathery (i.e. plume-like) appearance.

Flowers and fruits 

The large flower clusters are initially enclosed in two bracts, one of which is very large and becomes woody and boat-shaped with age. These branched flower clusters (i.e. panicles) are up to 2 m long and contain numerous small yellowish or cream-coloured flowers. Separate male and female flowers are present in these clusters. The stalkless (i.e. sessile) flowers are borne in groups of three, with one of these being female and the other two being male. The male (i.e. staminate) flowers have three leathery sepals, three leathery petals and six stamens. The female (i.e. pistillate) flowers have three leathery sepals, three leathery petals and an ovary topped with a style and three stigmas. Flowering occurs mostly during spring. The fruit (2.5-3 cm long and 1-2 cm wide) are crowded into very large hanging clusters. These fruit are egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid) and turn from green to yellow and then orange when fully mature. The have a hard woody centre and fleshy outer parts (i.e. they are drupes).

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces entirely by seed. These seeds are spread by bats and other animals that eat the fruit. They are also dispersed by water and in dumped garden waste.

Similar species 

Suitable alternatives to this plant are available on the Grow me Instead website