Cocos palm is a tall, single stemmed tree that produces clusters of orange fruit. It grows quickly and competes with native plants.
Cocos palms grow quickly and produce lots of seeds. They invade eucalypt forests, rainforests and along stream banks and waterways where they compete with native plants.
The fruits may be poisonous to dogs but no specific toxins have been found. Symptoms reported include: vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, lethargy, weight loss, blindness and muscle tremors.
Cocos palms have caused injuries and death to many flying foxes. They are attracted to the fruit but their wings can get caught in the flower sheaths or leaves. Seeds can cause severe constipation resulting in dehydration and death in younger flying-foxes. Seeds can also get caught behind teeth of young flying foxes making it difficult for them to feed.
Cocos palms are a large, single stemmed palm with an average height of 12 m. Plants can flower all year round but mostly flower in spring and summer. Old fruit and dead leaves hang on the plant, giving it an untidy look.
There are 7 to 25 leaves in a spiral coming from the top of the trunk (crown). Leaves are up to 5 m long and have a thick main stalk. Each stalk has 300-500 leaflets. Leaflets grow in clusters of 2-7 along different sides of the leaf stem giving them a three dimensional feathery look. Leaflets are:
Cocos palm is a weed in the North Coast region of NSW.
It is native to South America. It is also a weed in Queensland and in the United States of America.
Cocos palm grows best in full sun on well drained acidic soil with high rainfall. It can tolerate dry conditions, semi shade, frosts and a range of other soil types.
Flying foxes and other animals eat the fruit and spread the seed. Seeds can also spread in water and dumped garden waste.
The seeds take 3 to 6 months to germinate.
McKenzie, R. (2012). Australia's poisonous plants, fungi and cyanobacteria: a guide to species of medical and veterinary importance. CSIRO.
Noblick, L. R. (2017). A revision of the genus Syagrus (Arecaceae). Phytotaxa, 294(1), 1-262.
NSW DPIE (Department of Planning Industry and Environment). (2020). Flying-fox Management. Retrieved from: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/wildlife-management/management-flying-foxes
Queensland Government. (2020). Other invasive plants: Cocos palm. Retrieved 2021 from: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/land-management/health-pests-weeds-diseases/weeds-diseases/invasive-plants/other/cocos-palm
Cocos palms can be controlled manually by cutting the trunk anywhere below the lowest leaf. The trunks do not need to be treated with herbicides as they will not re-grow. After cutting the trunk remove fruit from the area to reduce the number of new seedlings.
Dispose of fruit appropriately to stop further spread. Contact your local council if you need advice on disposal.
Very small seedlings can be hand pulled.
Small plants can be spot sprayed.
See Using herbicides for more information.
Glyphosate 360 g/L
Rate: 10 mL per 1 L water
Comments: Spot spray (for smaller plants). For general weed control in Domestic areas (Home gardens), Commercial, Industrial and Public Service areas, Agricultural buildings and other farm situations.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate
The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.
|All of NSW
|General Biosecurity Duty
All pest plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.