The walking stick palm

The walking stick palm

Margo’s Manuscripts

Invariably gardens have some shaded areas, from buildings or established trees, that are difficult for growing many plants. The walking stick palm (Linospadix monostachya), which is native to the rainforests of North-east NSW and South-east Queensland, could be just the plant to fill in that difficult shady space. Although slow growing it will reach a useful height of 3m, with a width of 2m, when mature and will make a wonderful filler pant in the right position. The dark green fronds and long, showy pendulous spikes of cream flowers followed by edible red fruit the length of the spike, will add colour across the seasons. This plant thrives in slightly acidic moist soil so adding compost to the soil prior to planting and mulching well around the plant base assists in maintaining these conditions. The site needs to be well selected since this palm does not transplant readily.

It is also an attractive indoor plant. It is recommended that a deep pot be used. Initially this should only be three quarters filled with a good quality potting mix. As the palm grows more potting mix can be added to provide a stronger root system. Using a deep pot also reduces the number of times the plant needs to be re-potted.

During the nineteenth and early twentieth century our rainforests were heavily raided for these palms which were dug up to make walking sticks. The trunks, which only have a 3cm diameter, were an ideal width for a walking stick. The roots were cut off and the swollen base of the trunk formed the knobbly handle. Since the seed take about six months to germinate and quite a period of time for the palm to reach half a metre height, regeneration is a slow process in the natural habitat.

Linospadix monostachya, Walking Stick Palm
Linospadix monostachya
Photograph by Neil Murphy.

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