Last hurrah looms for suicide palms

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Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
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Shire of Broome Parks and Gardens co-ordinator Chris Lane with the one of the three 'suicide palms' in Broome
Camera IconShire of Broome Parks and Gardens co-ordinator Chris Lane with the one of the three 'suicide palms' in Broome Credit: Jakeb Waddell

All good things must come to an end — but at least they look spectacular before they do in Broome.

Two of the three palms planted by a Shire of Broome gardener in 1982 have flowered, making for a magnificent sight in front of the Mercure Hotel.

The corypha utan palms, more commonly known as gebange palms or “suicide palms”, flower only once at the end of their life in a blossoming made up of nearly one million flowers.

The flowering spike the palms produce is the largest in the plant kingdom, normally spanning about 5m, but once this impressive natural process occurs, the leaves collapse and the palms die.

Tim Willing was working for the Shire when Gus Barker planted the palms in 1982 and said the flowering was very significant.

“This is the first time these plants have flowered in Broome and is likely a first for WA,” he said.

“The flowering spikes have not yet developed fully — they could reach 8m long in another few months.”

Shire Parks and Gardens co-ordinator Chris Lane said the palms would attract local plant enthusiasts and tourists in Broome. The palms are expected to die before the end of the year.

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