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Discover Nature at JCU Plants Choosing Plants for Areas Prone to Cyclones RESPONSES OF SOME SPECIES COMMONLY GROWN IN NORTHERN QUEENSLAND


The following lists and comments are based on observations and reports made by B. Jackes, J. Roach, G. Stocker et al., N. Tucker, and others, and a report to the Cairns City Council on Cyclone “Winifred”. It covers cyclones in Queensland and the Northern Territory since Althea in 1971. This is not a fully comprehensive list as in many cases there were only a few specimens to note. Please look up details of possible height when selecting plants for particular areas. Photos of most of these trees can be found on the James Cook University Flora and Fauna web site.


Usually fall or lean badly. Often snap off early. In general, species most susceptible to failure are non-local natives; fast growing species and many exotics. However planted where they are somewhat protected and unlikely to get the strongest cyclonic winds then most will survive. Just be prepared to lose them but enjoy them in between cyclones!

Scientific name

Common name


Acacia spp.


No locals appeared to fall, but many of the small species lost many branches. Worth planting as quick growing and most often flower after 1 year. So worth growing for the between cyclone periods.

Albizia lebbeck.

Albizia, Siris Tree

Responses were varied, many fell over and many stayed upright.

Bauhinia spp.


Results varied with species and variety.

Caryota urens

Solitary Fishtail Palm

Bad news if it falls on a roof, the weight can even cause the concrete slab to be displaced as at Bingil Bay (Winifred).

Citharexylum quadrangulare


Many casualties, but worth growing if accept that it will fall.

Corymbia citrifolia

Lemon-scented gum

Tall, drops large branches even in moderate wind.

Corymbia torelliana

Cadaghi, Cadaga

Heavy crown, the architecture of the tree means that large branches tend to fall easily.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis

River Red Gum

Non local, many healthy tree snapped and lost branches.

Eucalyptus drepanophylla

Narrow-leafed Ironbark

Often termite affected.

Eucalyptus exserta

Queensland Peppermint

Too few planted to assess.

Eucalyptus platyphylla

Poplar or Cabbage gum

Termites in some of the old ones, many big branches lost. Many remained standing with only some branches lost. suitable for large blocks only, away from buildings.

Eucalyptus tereticornis

Forest Red Gum

Should not be planted anywhere near buildings or where it could affect overhead wires.

Grevillea robusta

Southern Silky Oak

Common ornamental, not native to the area and one of the first to fall hours before the eye in Althea.

Khaya senegalensis

African Mahogany

Large crown, shallow root system. Should be avoided.

Macaranga spp.


Broad leafed shrub which grow quickly, should be pruned prior to cyclone, preferably do not trim the lower branches, let it be bushy for best results.

Melicope spp.


Rainforest species, many seemed to fall early but there are exceptions, many young plantings had not developed a good root system. Worth planting for between cyclone periods! Trees can be easily pruned - host for Ulysses butterfly.

Peltophorum pterocarpum

Golden Flame, Yellow Flame

Doesn’t like wind, should never be planted close to a building or roadway, but can be pruned and will reshoot and will continue growing till next cyclone.

Plumeria spp.


If where there was strong persistent wind as along a street in the direction of the strongest winds (wind tunnel effect), then many fell over, many otherwise remained standing as though nothing had happened. P. obtusa stood up in many areas unless something else fell on it.

Spathodea campanulata

African Tulip Tree

Most fell over, can sucker from broken roots, a weedy species.

Tabebuia aurea

Golden Trumpet Tree

Seemed to be many casualties.

Tipuana tipu

Rosewood, Tipuana tree, Pride of Bolivia

This leguminous tree with yellow flowers , did not do well.