This single specimen of this palm growing in the front garden of this terrace is a rare botanical curiosity. Sentry Palms normally display a solitary trunk habit (ie. single trunk) however, this specimen branches into four trunks mid-way up the main trunk and has four separate growing tips. The appearance from the street frontage is like a ‘candelabra’. All four separate trunks are symmetrically arranged in a single plane, and are in parallel with the street. Natural aerial branching in palms is restricted to only two genera (Hyphaene and Vonitra). Abnormal aerial branching, although rare, may occur in some species following the direct result of damage to the growth apex (Jones, L., 1984).
Whilst known to be a rare occurrence, it is believed that there may be another specimen Sentry Palm in the garden of Bronte House which displays the same aerial branching pattern (pers. corro. Michael Gray, Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia, 2005).
This Sentry or Curly Palm (Howea belmoreana) is considered to have local significance as an individual specimen in terms of its botanic, rarity and representative values. The palm also has historic and cultural associations as a component of this terrace garden and is aesthetically and visually significant within this streetscape.
Sentry Palms are quite common in historic private and public gardens throughout the City of Sydney LGA. Traditionally, they have been grown in association with Kentia Palms (Howea forsteriana), another Lord Howe Island species, since the 1890’s.
Many Kentia and Sentry Palms where bought back to the Australian mainland as seeds by tourists who visited the island around the turn of the 20th century by ship and visitation boomed post World War II with the advent of the flying boats (Catalinas and Sandringhams), which operated out of Rose Bay in Sydney until the mid 1970’s. (http://www.lordhoweisland.info/community/history.htm Accessed 24.9.12)
It is unlcear as to the date of this planting but given the size and the branching it is assumed this a relatively aged specimen potentially dating to Inter War period.