PACSOA - Palms of Subequatorial Queensland
Book Reviews
Palms of Subequatorial Queensland

Robert Tucker
94 pages, 190mm x 260mm
Published by:
Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia (PACSOA)

To most Australians, Cape York Peninsula is still regarded as the last frontier in Northern & Eastern Australia. It is still one of the world's wild places and only in recent years has it become remotely accessible to adventure seeking tourists. It is an area full of climatic and ecological contradictions and contains a land mass close to the size of the state of Victoria. It's isolation somehow becomes its attraction especially for lovers of tropical vegetation types.

No fewer than 20 palm species exist in the area, some of which still require further taxonomic study. The region also contains a biological oddity in that a single specimen of Borassus exists within the study area, at Somerset and has been responsible for rumours that this genus is indigenous in Queensland. Several intra genus oddities occur within Ptychosperma and Archontophoenix and these are addressed in this publication. Are they new species; are they variants or are they purely due to the effects of differing climatic conditions over an extended period of influence?

The study area palm flora has been addressed over a number of years by other authors but not until now has the area been given the long overdue emphasis of a complete and detailed study. To this end, the Palm & Cycad Societies of Australia have realised that a need existed for this study and thus was born our inaugural publishing project.

The semi-technical nature of the writings is deliberate, it is meant to appeal to a wide audience, from purely lovers of palms to growers of Australian plants in general, as well as researchers.

(From the Foreward by Greg Cuffe .)

The region covered by this book, essentially northern Cape York Peninsula is an area rich in palms, but does not display the same level of diversity that the tropical lowlands and ranges in the southem part of the peninsula, particularly in the vicinity of Cairns has. To treat all the palms of Cape York Peninsula in one work could be to cover the bulk of the native palms together. So for convenience here, and to allow scope for a seperate account of the palms of the southem Peninsula, only the northern area is being treated in this book.

Northern Cape York Peninsula has a subequatorial monsoonal climate. The seasons are well defined, there being a rainy season and a dry season which correspond with the two monsoonal periods, in this case the north-west and south-east monsoons. Today many people regard the wet north-west monsoon as the only monsoon, but in most historical accounts the south-east winds are regarded as monsoons.

During the months from December to April hot, moist equatorial air moves south-east across northern Australia, bringing regular precipitation in the form of thunderstorms. Western Cape York Peninsula receives particularly violent storms in this way which account for much of its annual rainfall. At this time a deep low pressure system, usually connected to two or more tropical cyclones, the monsoon trough, moves south across Cape York Peninsula, noah of this line thunderstorms are frequent and heavy, moisture laden clouds congregate on the higher peaks of the Great Dividing Range, precipitating much rain on their slopes, filling the creeks and rivers below.

The most significant source of rain are the cyclones themselves, as many as three cyclones can strike a particular part of the peninsula in one season, each bringing great deluges of rain and associated violent winds. Much of the vegetation on the peninsula shows evidence of these forces, particularly in the tall Eucalyptus forests on the westem lowlands.

(Extracted from the Introduction by Robert Tucker .)

Species Covered:

Archontophoenix alexandrae
Gulubia costata
Arenga australasica
Hydriastele wendlandiana
Calamus aruensis Licuala ramsayi
Calamus australis Livistona drudei
Calamus caryotoides Livistona muelleri
Calamus hollrungii Livistona benthamii
Calamus warburgii Nypa fruticans
Caryota rumphiana
Ptychosperma elegans
Cocos nucifera
Ptychosperma macarthurii
Corypha elata Wodyetia bifurcata

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