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 a report to the Cairns City Council on Cyclone “Winifred”, and 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.


Often lose large branches but retain the basic framework. Check out the height of the species before planting as some will be too big for the average allotment.

Scientific name

Common name


Acacia spp.


Results varied with species.

Atractocarpus fitzalanii

Randia, Brown Gardenia

Probably better when somewhat protected, but many stood without any problem in ‘Yasi’, whilst others went over, small tree, tall shrub.

Buckinghamia celsissima

Ivory Curl Tree

Most once well established only lost some small branches.

Caesalpinia ferrea

Leopard Tree

Mixed results but most appeared relatively unscathed.

Cassia fistula

Cascara, Golden Shower, Indian Laburnum

Flowering within days, small limbs only lost; some weedy tendencies but can be easily controlled.

Cassia javanica

Pink Shower

Chiefly small limbs and leaves lost.

Casuarina spp.


Mixed results, C. equisetifolia the Coastal She-oak performed the best, normally grows close to the coast where there is wind, flexible foliage/branchlets.

Corymbia dallachiana

Dallachy’s Gum

Generally only lost leaves and the odd branch.

Corymbia ptychocarpa

Swamp Bloodwood

Loss of leaves and some smaller branches.

Corymbia tessellaris

Carbeen, Moreton Bay Ash

Loss of leaves chiefly although some fell probably because of root structure.

Delonix regia


Almost all Poincianas were flowering the day after ‘Yasi’ and ‘Althea’, some that had fallen appeared to have had roots damaged on one side. Some branches missing.

Dypsis decaryi

Triangle Palm

Plants to roof height seemed to do well.

Dypsis lutescens

Golden Cane Palm

These cluster palms form an excellent windbreak and act as debris collectors.

Eremophila bignoniifolia


Narrow leaves and flexible branches offered little wind resistance, shrub to small tree.

Eucalyptus phoenicea

Scarlet Gum

Although branches were lost, no trees appeared to have fallen or lost large branches.

Ficus benjamina.

Weeping Fig

This species seemed to perform better than F. bengalensis growing nearby on coast, possibly related to leaf size.

Ficus microcarpa

Small-fruited Fig

Several trees fell and some lost branches but the majority had minor damage only.

Flacourtia indica


Only a few specimens around.

Grevillea baileyana

Bailey’s Grevillea

Mixed results, seemed to depend on planting strategy. Attractive trees worth growing.

Hibiscus tiliaceus

Beach Hibiscus, Coast Cottonwood

Soft multi-stemmed, accustomed to wind but generally failed in “Yasi’, grows quickly.

Mangifera indica


Seem to be able to withstand a category 3 with only minimal damage, offer good protection.

Melaleuca spp.

Paperbarks, Bottlebrushes

Non-locals often leaning or larger branches broken.

Phyllanthus acidus

Star Gooseberry, Gooseberry Tree

Small tree, with edible tart fruits, seems to ignore the wind.

Phyllanthus cuscutifolius

Pink Phyllanthus

Small tree, flexible.

Plumeria obtusa

Singapore Frangipani

This species seemed to survive much better than other species of Frangipanni. Many old and young plants observed untouched.

Samanea saman


Possibly better avoided but most established trees only lost big branches.

Schefflera actinophylla

Umbrella Tree

Often lost some branches.

Syzygium tierneyanum

Bamaga Satinash

Relatively large tree, appeared to suffer little damage.

Syzygium spp.

Lilly Pilly, Lillypilly, Satinash

Most species had little damage, but some cultivars with very heavy foliage and/or without a well-developed root system fell or leant over. Structure remained and could be pulled up again.

Tabebuia spp and Handroanthus spp.

Pink or Yellow Trumpet Tree

Many lost the upper limbs and some fell over whilst others seemed unaffected – very variable response probably due to position.