Nīkau is the only palm native to mainland New Zealand, and is the world’s most southerly growing palm. It is a popular food source with the kereru. Māori used the leaves for weaving and for roof thatching. The immature flower was boiled and eaten like cauliflower.
5m x 3m. Can grow up to 15m high. Pink flowers. Several varieties are planted throughout. The Chatham Island form has white leaf-stems and is more tolerant of high winds.
Great for creating a tropical feel interplanted with large-leaved plants, or used to give a vertical element close to walkways.
This palm will take more than 10 years to develop a trunk, and even thereafter is a slow grower. Grows best with heat and dappled light, with roots shaded by other trees. Doesn’t like frosts.
Kermadec Island Nikau (Rhopalostylis baueri) – Not native. Broader fronds, and faster growing habit. Flowers are lighter, almost white.
Bangalow Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) – Not native. Faster growing, with no robust bulb forming at the frond bases. Stems of flowers/berries long and drooping, produced right around the trunk.
King Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) – Not native. Faster growing, with no robust bulb forming at the frond bases. Flowers are white and drooping, usually not circling the trunk.
Taranaki Education Resource – Rhopalostylis sapida
NZ Plant Conservation Network – Rhopalostylis sapida
O2 Landscapes – Rhopalostylis
Tawapou Coastal Natives – The Nikau Palm