The Palm Garden contains more than 800 rare, endangered and uncommon palms species from around the world. Palms from Madagascar, Hawaii and the Oceanic regions feature strongest with a smaller representation from Australia, South America, North America and China. Many of these palms are endangered within their natural habitat due to a number of consistent factors from land clearing and soil erosion to introduced animal pest species and weed species.
Located on the original garden nursery and depot site, this 6,000m2 site was fenced from public access for more than 40 years. In 2013, initial plantings included 200 potted specimens and 17 large ex-ground specimens recovered from sites at risk from impending residential developments in Queensland. A further 600 plants were added to the collection between 2014 and 2015.
Many are dioecious, meaning that individual plants are single sex, producing either male or female flowers only. This collection has been developed to ensure these rare palms are planted in groups of the same species (male and female) in the hope that they will produce viable seed that can be shared with other botanical institutions to expand species distribution in cultivation.
This collection would not have been possible without the generous support from local philanthropist and palm collector Mr Colin Wilson, a member of the Palm and Cycad Society of Australia who has a vision for ensuring private collections of rare and endangered palms are moved to botanic gardens to ensure their long term survival. Additional project funding to transplant the larger specimens was generously provided by the Friends of the Wollongong Botanic Garden.
The Palm Garden was officially opened by Mr Colin Wilson and the Lord Mayor of City of Wollongong, Cr Gordon Bradbery OAM as part of the Botanic Garden Australia and New Zealand 7th Biennial Congress held in Wollongong during October 2015.