Alexander Palm vs Bangalow Palm: A Comparison for Plant Enthusiasts

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
August 14, 2023

Bringing beautiful and stunning palm trees into residential landscapes is a popular option for Australian homeowners across this great continent. These trees add an exotic and captivating touch that can bring a tropical and relaxing flare to any yard or garden space. With their gracefully swaying fronds and unique silhouettes, palm trees are unique among other Australian trees. They create a sense of tranquillity and escape, making relaxing and enjoying the outdoors easier. These versatile trees thrive in various climates, offering options for both warm and temperate regions, while their low-maintenance nature simplifies garden upkeep. If you want to learn more about bringing palm trees into your Australian landscape design, then this is where you need to be right now!

Brief overview of palms

Nearly 2800 species of palm trees have been documented worldwide. All of these can be broken down into two basic classes based on their leaf shape- feather leaf and fan leaf. Of the more than 50 Australian species, two are indigenous to the Sydney and Hunter regions, one a feather palm, the other a fan palm, as noted by the Indigenous Landscape Desing Australia group. They form a key component of ecosystems across Australia and contribute to the diversity the continent is famous for. Fan and Feather type Palms are associated with several different soil types, thrive in sunny, partial shade, and can tolerate hot temperatures and drought conditions well. They are also critical to maintaining the food and shelter balance for many of the area’s diverse animal and plant life.

Why choose palms for your garden?

Using palms in your garden can offer various benefits, ranging from aesthetic appeal to environmental advantages. Here are some benefits of incorporating palm trees into your garden that our gardening experts think you should know:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Palms are known for their striking and distinctive appearance. Their unique and graceful fronds make for a very captivating focal point in any landscape.
  • Landscape Diversity: Palms can add diversity to your garden’s landscape with different sizes, textures, and heights. This diversity makes for a visually dynamic outdoor space.
  • Low Maintenance: Many palm species are relatively low-maintenance once they are established. This is perfect for busy homeowners who don’t have much time to spare.
  • Shade and Privacy: Taller palm species can provide effective shade for the garden space. They also work as natural screens, offering your yard and garden privacy.
  • Drought Tolerance: Numerous palm species adapt well to the harsh Australian environment. Mature palms can handle periods of heat and drought quite well.
  • Wind Resistance: Palms are generally considered to be well adapted to strong winds, making them suitable for coastal areas. Slim, flexible trunks make this possible.
  • Wildlife Habitat: Palms can support a range of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. This protects a more biodiverse and vibrant micro-ecosystem in the yard.
  • Cultural Significance: Palms hold cultural significance in many societies and regions in Australia. With palms, your garden can celebrate these cultural traditions and lore.
  • Air Purification: Palms absorb carbon dioxide like other trees and release oxygen. They can help improve the air quality around the home and keep your family healthier.
  • Increased Property Value: A well-designed garden with beautiful palm trees can significantly boost curb appeal and overall value. Palm trees can make your property more attractive.

Palms have a natural, organic beauty that can give your garden tranquillity and serenity. Their presence can evoke feelings of relaxation and escape, helping you create a peaceful oasis. Of all the varieties found In Australia, the Alexander Palm and Bangalow Palm are two of the most common and also two options our team commonly recommends.

What is Alexander Palm?

Alexander Palm Red Fruit

This is a beautiful Australian native palm that is known for the distinguishing factor of having a slender, solitary trunk. It is a fast-growing specimen that is perfect for creating a lush and tropical look. The Alexander Palm is perfect for our subtropical environment in Australia.

Species: Archontophoenix alexandrae
Common Names: Alexander palm, King palm
Location:   Indoor and Outdoor
Type:   Feather Leaf Palm Tree
Growth:  Up to 24 metres tall, Up to 4.5 metres wide at crown
Sun requirements:  Full sun
Foliage Colour:  Dark green and pale white underneath
Flower Colour:  Large cream-white
Flowering:  Spring
Fruit:  Small, red fruit
Maintenance level: Low
Poisonous for pets:  No


What is Bangalow Palm?

Bangalow Palm Green Fruit

With a traditional palm-shaped frond, and a tall, slender trunk, the typical characteristics of a palm tree are all wrapped up into one stunning package. It is hardy, easy to grow, and a great tropical focal point in Australian landscapes. The Bangalow Palm is a great example of the diversity seen here.

Species: Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
Common Names: Bangalow Palm, King Palm
Location:   Indoor young and Outdoor mature
Type:   Palm Leaf Palm Tree
Growth:  Up to 25 metres tall, Up to 3-5 metres wide at crown
Sun requirements:  Full sun
Foliage Colour:  Bright green, feathered fronds
Flower Colour:  Dark red-purple
Flowering:  Summer to Autumn
Fruit:  Small, green fruit
Maintenance level: Low
Poisonous for pets:  No


Alexander Palm vs Bangalow Palm: Key Differences

Though widely found in Sydney gardens, the Bangalow Palm originates from the Australian central-eastern coast region. This palm tree is cold-hardy, fast-growing and very low-maintenance. It does, however, do best with moist, well-drained soils. Mature trees need full sun, but when it is small, this palm will also do well in partial sun. It makes a wonderful addition to any Australian garden and is a popular choice among our plant experts. 

Meanwhile, Alexander Palm bears a very slim trunk with a flared base, and dark green fonds are coloured silver underneath. It prefers shade when immature, but mature palms do best in full sun and are drought tolerant, making it very low-maintenance.

Which one is best for my backyard?

Here are some of the important factors to consider when choosing the palm tree you want to plant in your Australian yard:

  • Climate Compatibility: Select the palm well-suited to your local climate, considering temperature ranges, light and temperature fluctuations, rainfall, etc.
  • Mature Size: Consider your available space and choose a palm that, at mature height, still fits in your landscape and doesn’t obstruct structures or utilities.
  • Soil Type and Drainage: Understand your soil’s composition and specific characteristics to know if your chosen palm tree can easily thrive without much work.
  • Sunlight Requirements: Assess the amount of sun also needs to be considered as some palm trees prefer sun over shade, and some need more light than others to thrive.
  • Water Needs: Consider the water requirements of different palm species and choose those that align with your desired level of maintenance and water availability.
  • Wind Resistance: If you live in a windy area, opt for palm trees with flexible trunks and sturdy fronds that can withstand gusty conditions and hold up in stormy weather.
  • Local Regulations: Check if any local regulations or homeowners’ association guidelines dictate the types of palm trees you can plant in your yard.

Key takeaways

Palms provide aesthetic beauty and functional benefits, such as offering shade, enhancing privacy, and contributing to a more diverse and ecologically balanced ecosystem. Palm trees infuse residential landscapes with natural beauty and an alluring sense of faraway destinations. 

Whether they are used as striking focal points or companions to other plantings, our plant and landscape experts love using these palm trees themselves!


Are Alexander Palm roots invasive?

As a general rule, palm trees are not invasive and have no real risk of causing root damage due to their type of roots.

Are there pests or diseases to be aware of when growing Alexander Palm or Bangalow Palm?

Most palms are hardy and low-maintenance in terms of pest or disease issues. However, these palms can sometimes suffer from Fusarium Wilt, Ganoderma Butt Rot, Bud Rot and Leaf Spot Diseases if proper growing conditions are not maintained.

Can Alexander Palm and Bangalow Palm coexist in the same garden?

These stunning palms can be grown together though it is best not to mix them but rather use them in groupings in different areas within the landscape.