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 G. Calvert, 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.


These may lose leaves and small branches but retain their overall framework. Usually remain standing or leaning.

Scientific name

Common name


Alstonia actinopyhlla

Milky Pine

Very stable, withstood ‘Tracey’ with minimal damage.

Alstonia scholaris

Milky Pine

Minimal damage, some branches may be broken, good open architecture, trunk is sturdy. Should not be planted close to buildings as at maturity form a large tree. Can be pruned to reduce height.

Archontophoenix alexandrae

Alexander Palm

Flexible stem, collects debris.

Arenga australasica

Native Sugar Palm, native Honey Palm

Excellent in ‘Larry’ and ‘Yasi’ in Bingal Bay area and elsewhere, form a good windbreak and also bind the soil reducing erosion.

Argyrodendron spp.

Tulip Oak

Only limbs lost in ‘Larry’.

Araucaria spp.

Hoop Pine, Norfolk Pine

Lost branches particularly on windward side, but remained standing. Tops sometimes taken out.

Babingtonia virgata


Tall shrub, most have changed name , flexible.

Barringtonia calyptrata

Mango Pine, Cassowary Pine

Good tolerance and leaves quickly resprouted within 3 weeks in Townsville - Yasi.

Bombax ceiba

Bombax, Red Cotton Tree

Open architecture, lost some branches but structure remained.

Brachychiton acerifolius

Illawarra Flame Tree, Flame Tree

Depending on position some of these lose the upper portion but many lost only small branches. The Peanut Tree, Sterculia quadrifida behaved similarly.

Calophyllum inophyllum

Mastwood, Alexandrian Laurel, Beauty Leaf, Beach Touriga

Excellent in all cyclones, on the beach front may lose branches but main stem and main branches remain, soon recovers. Some lost in the tidal surge in Cardwell others looked skeletons but structure remained

Canarium australianum

Mango bark, Scrub Turpentine, Brown Cudgeree

An attractive coastal tree, no casualties observed, only some branches broken

Carallia brachiata

Freshwater mangrove, Carallia

Tolerant of strong winds.

Carpentaria acuminata

Carpentaria Palm

Thin flexible stem, collects debris.


Black Bean Tree

Trunk stable, may lose leaves and look tatty but soon recovers.

Cinnamomum zeylanicum


Only a few trees observed, but they lost very few branches.

Cocos nucifera

Coconut Palm

Good if not top heavy with coconuts!

Cordyline spp.


A popular plant to about 2 m tall, flexible, very tolerant of strong winds.

Cryptocarya hypospodia


Rainforest tree that has proven to be hardy.

Cupaniopsis anacardioides

Tuckeroo, Cupania Tree

A hardy tree if planted initially as a small tree and allowed to develop a good root system, most failures were due to a poor root system.

Cycas spp.


Rarely exceed 3 m tall, no failures observed.

Elaeocarpus grandis

Blue Quandong

Open architecture, may lose some branches and top knocked out – quick growing.

Eugenia uniflora

Surinam Cherry, Brazilian Cherry

Bushy shrub to 4 m tall, edible fruit, very small branches broken only.

Euroschinus falcatus

Ribbon Wood, Maiden’s Blush

A local woodland tree that seemed to ignore the strong winds

Ficus benghalensis

Banyan Fig

Along Townsville foreshores, although they have a flattened side due to normal wind shear, most were very sturdy particularly if the aerial roots were left to increase the stability. Only some branches and leaves on windward side lost . New leaves appearing within 3 weeks.

Ficus rubiginosa

Rusty Fig, Rock Fig

None appeared to be lost on the Townsville Strand and all standing.

Flindersia spp.

Native Ash, Maples, Hickory

Resistance varies with species but most observed to date appear to be very resistant. Flindersia brayleyana is a good species

Fraxinus griffithii

Griffith’s Ash

This small tree appeared to suffer very little damage and continued to flower.

Glochidion spp.

Buttonwood, Little Cheese Tree

Lost small branches and rather battered on windward side with shredded leaves, tall shrub, often bushy.

Gmelina arborea

White Beech, Gmelina

Resistant, little damage observed, this tree is becoming weedy in some areas, so if planted needs to be keep under control.

Gmelina fasciculiflora

White Beech, Gmelina

Resistant, little damage observed.

Gmelina leichhardtii

White Beech

Resistant with minimal damage.

Grevillea baileyana

Bailey’s Grevillea, White Silky Oak

Reported to do well in Bingil Bay during ‘Yasi’, should be planted while small to allow a good root system to develop. Those that failed around Townsville resulted from time of planting to time of ‘Yasi’ being inadequate for a suitable root system to develop. Soil substrate also probably affects.

Harpulia pendula


Some broken small branches but otherwise resistant.

Lagerstroemia speciosa

Lagerstroemia, Queen’s Myrtle

Good resistance but some recently planted ones did lean.

Leptospermum madidum

Weeping Tea-tree

Excellent tall shrub with fine leaves and flexible branches.

Livistona spp.

Fan Palms

Leaves flexible, become mop-like, very few observed to fall, species dependent.

Lophostemon grandiflorus

Northern Swamp Mahogany

Some branch damage and leaf loss only.

Mangifera indica


Variable results but in Townsville in both’Althea’ and ‘Yasi’, most seemed to ignore the passage of the cyclone and act as debris collector and wind breaks, occasionally some small limbs lost.

Meleleuca bracteata

Black tea-tree

All standing although some had lost parts of the crown on the windward side.

Melaleuca fluviatilis


Most of these tall paperbarks (M. dealbata, M.leucadendra) were good, a few snapped and the older bark was stripped off.

Melaleuca viminalis


Better known as Callistemon, a good flexible shrub or small tree, most were relatively undamaged.

Melaleuca viridiflora

Broad-leafed Paperbark

Some small branches lost.

Millettia pinnata


Leaves lost and small branches survived well, soon resprouting.

Mimusops elengi

Red Coondoo, Mimusops

Small trees, none observed to have fallen.

Nauclea orientalis

Leichhardt Tree

Large specimens lost some limbs and leaves particularly on windward side.

Nerium oleander


Multi-stemmed, flexible tall shrub; highly, poisonous so be selective about where you plant it.

Pandanus spp.

Pandanus, Screw Pine

Look like wrung out mops but remain standing.

Phoenix roebelinii

Dwarf Date Palm

A stable dwarf palm.

Pleiogynium timorense

Burdekin Plum

All trees appeared to suffer little damage.

Pterocarpus indicus var. indicus

Burmese Rosewood, Angsana

Only a few casualties, most only lost leaves and small branches even in large supermarket car parks. Variety burmannica, ‘Weeping Rosewood’ did not do well.

Roystonia regia

Cuban Royal Palm

Seems to be good up to category 3, perhaps don’t let it get too big.

Sabal palmetto

Palmetto Palm

These relatively small palms withstood the wind other than looking windswept unless other trees fell on them.

Schotia brachypetala

Kaffir bean Tree

Medium sized tree that loses only small branches.

Scolopia braunii


Small branches.

Syzygium forte

White Lady Apple

Grow naturally near beach front, lose leaves and may be a few branches. Medium sized tree with a dense crown.

Syzygium leuhmannii

Cherry Satinash

This Lilly Pilly and a related species S. fibrosum all survived well. Both are relatively small trees and can be pruned to a suitable height

Swietenia mahogani


A few small branches and wind burnt leaves were the only observations. Compare with the African Mahogany.

Tamarindus indica


Appears to ignore strong wind in most situations.

Tectonia grandis


Some branches and the top off large trees and leaves the worst for wear also came through well in ‘Tracey’. A young plantation near Silkwood in Yasi showed little effect.

Terminalia catappa

Sea Almond

Most lost or had leaves torn and wind-burnt, but structure remained.

Terminalia spp.

Damson Plum, Terminalia

All species have good open architecture offering little wind resistance but leaves burnt as expected, occasionally branches broken.

Wodyetia bifurcata

Foxtail Palm

Showed good tolerance despite large leaves which appear to be very flexible, may be different if and when it reaches 15 m tall.

Xanthostemon chrysanthus

Golden Penda, Yellow Penda

Very tolerant tree once a good root system developed, best planted as a small to 1 m tall tree. Mass flowering one month later

Xanthostemon verticillatus

Bloomfield Penda

Shrub, very tolerant.