Rare palm tree to be preserved

I’m pleased to be able to report on a win I’ve had on Council with the planned removal of a unique and much loved palm tree being cancelled at my urging.  The silver date palm (Phoenix sylvesterus) in question has been in Hyde Park as long as I can remember and over time it has taken on a highly unusual quality.

While the vast majority of palms of most species (including this species) grow only a single stem above ground the top of this tree has sprouted multiple heads, as shown in the image.  I’ve never seen another silver palm like this and local palm fanciers speculate it may be the only such individual of this species to grow like this.

While it takes something of a botanical inclination to understand the uniqueness of this tree everyone who sees it notices something odd about it, even if they can’t say exactly what it is, and it’s not unusual to find several people sitting around staring up at it quizzically each lunchtime.

Unfortunately in February the Council decided that the poor old tree was a safety hazard – due to it’s age they were worried that it might shed bits of itself onto people – and a decision was made to have it removed.  I was unconvinced of the need for this for two reasons. 

Firstly, we’re talking about an old palm tree with no branches or heavy woody parts to cause serious damage to anyone.  Secondly, there are plenty of other measures that can be used to keep an old tree safe, like fencing it off. 

Ultimately Council listened to the concerns that were raised by various community members and myself and decided that public safety could be protected without removing the tree.  Mulch has been placed around the base of the tree to discourage anyone from sitting too close and a regular pruning regime will be initiated to remove dead fronds.

I’d like to thank Council staff for coming up with an alternative solution that keeps the public safe while at the same time preserving one of our true living treasures for all to enjoy.

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