Northern Australia is a cyclone impact area so plan your tree planting to minimize any damage and flow-on costs but don’t avoid planting trees and shrubs, just choose wisely
Although all plants have an upper limit of tolerance to strong winds, some plants are better than others at resisting strong winds. Remember plants can protect as well as collect debris. Choose wisely, even if a tree falls on a house it may help to hold the roof on and belongings inside may be salvageable. Trees provide shade, shrubs can protect windows. On medium and small allotments I suggest you concentrate on small to medium sized trees and shrubs and that any trees planted should be strategically planted and if necessary pruned to keep under control. Some of the local eucalypts such as Corymbia tessellaris performed reasonably well although leaves lost (good thing) and some branches, however, many are best suited to large blocks and parks. Some such as the Forest Red Gum – Eucalyptus tereticornis and the western River Red Gum – Eucalyptus camaldulensis should only be planted well away from roads and power lines. If you want a eucalypt then choose one of the mallee species such as Eucalyptus curtisii or Corymbia ptychocarpa (Swamp Bloodwood) which can be pruned to maintain desired height.
Top of my ‘tree’ list for stability are (alphabetically):
Alstonia actinophylla and A. scholaris Milky Pine
Calophyllum inophyllum Mastwood, Alexandrian
Laurel, Beauty Leaf
Canarium australianum Mango Bark, a local
Castanospermum australe Black Bean
Corymbia ptychocarpa Swamp Bloodwood, can
be pruned to maintain a
small compact size.
Some compact cultivars
Euroschinus falcatus Ribbonwood, a local
Flindersia spp. Australian Hickory, Maple
Fraxinus griffithii Griffith’s Ash
Gmelina spp. White beech
Leptospermum madidum Weeping Tea Tree, tall
Lophostemon grandiflorus Northern Swamp
Mahogany (not Khaya or
Melaleuca spp. – smaller local species such as M. bracteata, M. viminalis particularly – the latter has been known until recently as a Callistemon.
Mimusops elengi Red Coondoo
Poinciana (Delonix regia) this species seems to ignore the cyclone as long as it is not infected with the fungus Ganoderma.
Pterocarpum indicus var. indicus Burmese Rosewood, the Weeping Rosewood var. burmannica does not appear to have good stability.
Terminalia spp. Sea Almond, Damson
Xanthostemon chrysanthus Golden Penda
Palms may be messy but flexible-stemmed palms and clumping palms, like the Golden Cane, Clumping Fish-tail, Lipstick Palm etc will break the wind, protect windows and catch debris – go around the area and check out what is still standing that you like. In many areas after a severe cyclone then it is the tall palms that stand out above the buildings. Photographs after ‘Tracey’ in Darwin, showed palms decorated with aluminium roofing, so valuable to collect debris. Don’t be afraid to cut down a big palm and replace it with a young one. However, do not grow any palms near overhead wires, where if they fall they will bring the wires down with them or the frond whips the line down. When considering the palms, if near any over head wires, choose ones where at maturity, the total height of trunk plus erect frond must not reach the line.
List from a resident (ktg)of Bingil Bay.
The following list has been provided by a resident of Bingil Bay who has been observing tree responses for 26 years which includes 3 cyclones on his 12 acres of rainforest. I have divided the list into small to medium trees including palms and trees that eventually will be large!
Small to medium size trees, including palms:
1. Arenga australasica (Native Sugar Palm, Native Honey Palm)
2. Syzygium forte (White Apple), this tree does not like heavy clay.
3. Xanthostemon chrysanthus (Golden Penda)
4. Melaleuca leucadendra (Weeping Paperbark)
5. Archontophoenix alexandrae (Alexander Palm)
6. Grevillea baileyana (White Silky Oak)
7. Flindersia brayleyana (Queensland Maple)
8. Syzygium leuhmannii (Cherry Satinash)
Eventually very large trees:
1. Agathis australis (Kauri Pine)
2. Polyscias murrayi (White Basswood, Pencil cedar0
3. Alstonia scholaris (Milky Pine) quite a few with the tops snaps off, some affected by the weight of vines which lowered wind resistance.
4. Eucalyptus grandis (Flooded Gum, Rose Gum).