Phoenix canariensis

Phoenix palm

Family: Aracaceae

Origin: Canary Islands

A stand of phoenix palm trees in a park.
Palm is a popular landscape amenity due to its fast growth and erect stance. It is often planted in parks and reserves along roads and pathways.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest
  • Parkland with Significant Ecological Areas — Site-led
  • Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area priority status
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Stocky palm. Trunk is diamond-patterned from leaf scars. Leaf stalks have sharp spines. Leaves are large, segmented and held in terminal crown. Flowers are white/yellow and borne on a hanging stem in October – November. Berries are orange/yellow and borne on female plants in summer.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell phoenix palm within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant phoenix palm within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any phoenix palm on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Habitats

Forest, coastal cliffs, sand dunes, saline wetlands, roadsides, volcanic cones.

Dispersal

Seeds dispersed by birds, gravity, water and possibly rats. Human-mediated dispersal through deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

Competitively excludes native vegetation. Facilitates invasive epiphytes and birds. Sharp spines on the leaves can cause severe injury.

Control

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Dig out seedlings with care to avoid any spines.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.

Biocontrol

Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of seedlings with double strength glyphosate gel.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray seedlings with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant. Recommend all palms beyond seedling stage are controlled by a qualified arborist due to the severe injuries Phoenix palms can cause.

Safety notes

Sharp spine can piece through gloves and cause serious injuries.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

A well-established phoenix palm that is low to the ground.
Small seedlings can be hand pulled and larger palms can be controlled by cutting down and applying herbicide to the stump. Care must be taken when dropping mature palms as even the trunk fibres are sharp and can puncture skin.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
A young phoenix palm growing.
Phoenix palm seeds are large and fleshy and eaten by birds who spread them far and wide. If frond tips puncture skin, they often break off leaving prickles that are very hard to remove.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Phoenix palm sprouting from the ground.
Phoenix palm is a favourite habitat of sparrows who nest in the multitude of small cavities formed when palm fronds grow from the stem. Fronds are very dangerous with sharp tips which can harm passersby as they fall.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow