Pygmy date palm trees

Pygmy Date Palm Information: How To Grow Pygmy Date Palm Trees

Gardeners seeking a palm tree specimen to accent the garden or home will want to know how to grow the pygmy date palm tree. Pygmy palm growing is relatively simple given suitable conditions, though pruning pygmy palm trees is sometimes necessary to keep its growth manageable, especially in smaller settings.

Pygmy Date Palm Information

More significant than its name implies, the pygmy date palm tree (Phoenix roebelenii) is a member of the family Arecaceae, a huge group with over 2,600 species found in tropical and subtropical climates of the world. Pygmy palm growing is used in a variety of interiorscapes and commercial plantings due to its graceful form and height of 6 to 10 feet.

Pygmy date palm information allows that this particular genus is known as a date palm due to its often sweet, sugary fruit pulp found in some species of Arecaceae. Its genus, Phoenix, encompasses only a small portion of the Arecaceae family counted at about 17 species.

Pygmy date palm trees have small, yellow hued flowers, which give way

to tiny purplish dates born on a thin solitary trunk with deep green fronds forming a crown. Insignificant thorns also grow on the leaf stalks.

How to Grow Pygmy Date Palm Trees

This palm tree hails from Southeast Asia and, therefore, thrives in USDA zones 10-11, which mimic conditions found in those areas of Asia.

In USDA zones 10-11, temperatures do not routinely dip below 30 F. (-1 C.); however, the tree has been known to survive in USDA zone 9b (20 to 30 degrees F. or -6 to -1 C.) without significant frost protection. That said, the pygmy palms may do well as a container specimen on a deck or patio during the summer months in the Midwest, but will need to be overwintered indoors before the first frost.

Pygmy date palm trees grow along riverbanks with sun to partial shade exposure and, hence, require significant irrigation and rich organic soil to truly flourish.

Care for a Pygmy Date Palm

To care for a pygmy date palm, be sure to maintain a regular watering schedule and plant this tree in sandy, well-drained soil in an area of sun all the way to full shade. When grown in soil with a pH over 7, the tree may develop magnesium or potassium deficiency with symptoms of chlorotic or spotted fronds.

Pygmy palms have moderate drought tolerance and are mostly resistant to disease and pests; however, leaf spot and bud rot may afflict this type of palm.

Pruning Pygmy Palm Trees

The up to 6-foot long fronds of the pygmy palm tree may occasionally need reining in. Pruning pygmy palm trees is not a daunting task and merely requires periodical removal of aged or diseased foliage.

Other maintenance of the tree may include some clean up of spent leaves or removal of offshoots as the propagation method for this palm is via seed dispersal.

Phoenix roebelenii (botanical name) is also known as the dwarf Pygmy Date palm.

The plant is also often referred to as Robellini .

These small palm trees hail from the understory of the dense forests of southeast Asia and Africa and belong to the family Arecaceae, which is the palm family.

Pygmy Date Palm Care

Size & Growth

Dwarf Date Palm is a slow growth rate plant and mature plants will attain a height of no more than 5’ feet when grown indoors.

Outdoors plants can reach 8′ – 10′ feet tall.

The plant’s foliage consists of graceful, arching fronds about 3’ feet long with slim, delicate leaves.

Flowering & Fragrance

When grown outdoors, these dioecious plants produce distinctive male and female flowers on separate trees.

The cream-colored flowers mature into edible dates on female trees.

Light & Temperature

As a forest understory plant, Phoenix roebelenii does very well in a setting with bright, indirect sunlight or partial shade but will tolerate some full sun.

These plants do very well when placed near a south or east-facing window.

Pygmy Date Palm does well with medium filtered light, but you must take care not to water excessively in a lower light setting.

These plants grow best at temperatures ranging from 50° – 75° degrees F, Fahrenheit (10° C – 24° C).

Avoid allowing the temperature to drop below 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C).

Pygmy Date Palms are winter hardy in the United States hardiness zone 9b – 11 (USDA Zone).

Watering & Feeding

As tropical understory plants, these small palm trees will not thrive without moderate or high humidity levels.

Throughout the growing zone season, spring through autumn, keep your Pygmy Date Palm well watered.

As with most plants, avoid leaving the soil soggy.

The plant should never be left standing in water.

During the winter months, reduce watering. Allow the soil to dry out completely in between waterings.

Early in the springtime, resume regular watering and give your Phoenix roebelenii a half-strength dose of time-released palm fertilizer.

It will appreciate another dose in mid-summer.

The best type of fertilizer to use for these small palm trees is rose fertilizer.

Fertilizers formulated for rose bushes contain the right micronutrients for this particular type of palm.

Plant food without enough magnesium or a potassium deficiency will cause the leaves to develop yellowing spots.

It’s best to fertilize only twice a year using a time-release plant food, but if you are not able to use a time-released formulation, you should fertilize once a month during the plant’s growing season.

In either case, use a half-strength solution.

Soil & Transplanting

Always use a well-draining commercial potting mix with a bit of coarse sand or perlite added to provide the right nutrients and good drainage.

The best time to repot Phoenix roebelenii is in the springtime just prior to the growing season.

You must repot very carefully because the plants have quite delicate roots and do not take well to disturbance.

When the plant has fully matured and is not expected to grow any larger, avoid repotting altogether.

Instead, turn and dig away the top several inches of soil and replace it with a fresh, top dressing of nutrient-rich potting soil once a year in the early spring.

When choosing a container for your Dwarf Palm tree, avoid lightweight plastic choices.

Instead, go for a heavier terra-cotta or ceramic container to prevent toppling.

Put a layer of gravel in the bottom for added ballast.

Grooming & Maintenance

Trim away dead or damaged fronds as needed.

Be careful of coming in contact with the sharp spines found at the base of each leaflet.

It is always wise to wear protective gloves when handling Phoenix roebelenii.

You may also like the Windmill Palm – Trachycarpus fortunei

How To Propagate Pygmy Date Palm Tree

When you repot your Miniature Palm tree, you may find it has produced suckers at the base of the plant.

To propagate new palm trees, remove the suckers and plant them in their small pots.

Phoenix Pygmy Palm Main Pest or Disease Problems

For the most part, these hardy little plants are resistant to disease; however when kept outdoors and planted directly in the soil, they may fall prey to soil-borne fungal diseases causing root and trunk rot.

With most palm varieties being single trunk its a tough disease to combat.

Excessive watering will cause root rot.

If you overwater your miniature palm plant, you may also find the leaves begin to turn brown.

This may also be problematic if you live in an area with hard water.

When grown outdoors, the young, tender leaves of the plant may attract caterpillars, weevils, scales, mealybugs, and mites early in the growing season.

Is The Phoenix Toxic or Poisonous

Pygmy palm trees are not poisonous, and, in ideal settings, they produce edible dates.

These dwarf Palms are said to be very good clean air plants and are reported to excel at removing carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene from the air.

Is Phoenix Plant Invasive?

While these tropical plants grow well outdoors in semitropical US settings and self propagate readily, they are not considered invasive.

Suggested Uses For Phoenix Roebelenii Palms

In tropical and semi-tropical settings, Phoenix roebelenii may be planted outdoors year-round in small groves.

They are very popular landscape plants throughout the state of Florida, but they should not be planted at the seaside as they do not tolerate salt spray.

In cooler climates, they make excellent large indoor houseplants.

Their origins make them ideal candidates for pool landscaping, along with home, office, and commercial settings.

Supplies you will need:

I find that bungee cords work the best, Two (2), at least 25-30 inches (63cm-75cm) bungee cords well do just fine. Also some sort of fleece or heavy duty insulating protective covering, a wool blanket works very well, try and find an old wool army blanket, check out a GI surplus store in your area.

Next, you want a plastic or water proof tarp and finely you’ll need a supply of mulch,straw, hay, pine needles or leaves. It is also advised to get a helper when doing this, it makes it much easer and faster to do.

The procedure:

Loop bungee cord around trunk and attach both ends to form a complete loop and slide upwards bring all the leaves together into a bundle. This may require some assistance from your helper, also note that two bungee cords maybe required.

Cover or wrap the bundled leaves including the trunk with a wool blanket and cover palm completely with a water proof cover making sure that this tarp extends all the way to the ground.

Mulch the root area with about six (6+) or more inches of mulch (15cm+) the more the better, and water well before freeze. Remember frost is more damaging than the cold unless temperatures are below freezing (26°F -3°C) for an extended period of time. Also keep the soil around the root system from freezing.

When to remove protection:

If temperature rebound to above freezing and the weather has modified to a mild state, immediately remove all protection. If temperature are to remain below freezing it is best to leave protection on until temperatures moderate.

Note: do not remove the mulch. Always Use Caution when working around any Phoenix species!

Dangerous Palms

When most people think of palms, they think of a ferny-like tropical tree or shrub, sort of like what Xena Princess Warrior would experience running through on her show filmed in New Zealand, or the soft, willowy foliage the troops of some jungle war movie might be slinking through. Indeed, many people grow palms for their luxurious tropical foliage. However, a lot of palms are not so ‘user-friendly’ and can be dangerous in several ways.

Many palms, particularly the ones that grow well for me in California, are equipped with all sorts of sharp, annoying spines, thorns, teeth or simply very sharp leaves. These palms are not only unsafe to go blundering into, but can be risky pruning or planting.

Examples of palms with spines are many, though most seriously spiny palms are truly tropical in nature and I do not have any of these in my yard. Some of these palms are primarily spiny when young, possibly to give them some defense against predation while still small enough to be considered food, and losing the spines at maturity when, as trees, are less interesting to herbivores. However, other palms are so spiny, even in adulthood as to have spines on nearly every surface and structure. These palms tend to have the most vicious spines and should really be avoided, or planted far from walkways.

Acanthophoenix crinita trunk and leaves Acrocomia aculeata trunk Astrocaryum standleyanum trunk

Bactris gaisepes Calamus latifolia Mauritiella armata

Oncosperma horridum Plectocomia elongata Roscheria melanochaetes

Salacca zalaca is an intensely spine species; Trithrinax campestris is spiny all over;

Verschaffeltia splendida (left above) Trithrinax brasiliensis (right above)

Zombia antillarum has a highly ornamental spiny woven pattern on its multiple trunks (lower photo above). These spines are very sharp and thick

Some species are simply spiny all over… above is a leaf and spathe from Acrocomia aculeata that is completely covered in spines; right are fruits of Astrocaryum alatum that are spiny- this entire plant, including the leaflets, have deadly sharp spines

Some of the most beautiful but dangerous palms in the tropics are of the genus Pigafetta (left photo), as they not only have very long, very sharp spines arming their leaves (see fallen leaf base on right), but they grow quickly to sixty feet tall or more, and then drop these deadly, spiny leaves, impaling whoever happens to be unlucky enough to be below at the time. These leaves can weigh over thirty pounds, too.

Many palms have teeth on the petioles (the ‘branch’ that holds the leaf), and some of these teeth can really take a bite out of you if you are not careful. The common Washingtonia (Mexican Fan Palm) is well known for being a tricky palm to not only trim safely, but the falling leaves tend to get hung on ones clothing or drop onto others below causing serious damage.

Washingtonia robusta leave blades showing sharp, hooked, brown petiolar teeth- these are almost like razor blades

Chamaerops humilis is another common palm with killer teeth along the petioles. Trimmed palms look great and are true landscape specimens (right)… to trim the palm on the left to get to the palm on the right can be an extremely dangerous and painful undertaking

Chamaerops humilis petioles (left); other species with vicious teeth: Copernica alba (middle) and Corypha utan (right)

most Copernicia have sharp teeth- Copernicia baileyana (left) as do most Livistona sp. (Livistona saribus in right photo)

Still other palms have modified leaves along the base of the petioles that can be extremely sharp and long making pruning these palms a truly hazardous experience. Phoenix palms are a prime example of such dangerous plants.

mature and immature Phoenix canariensis palms showing spines on leaf bases. Photo on right shows that I have tried to cut the sharp tips off most of these spines as these are still at a level where these could easily impale me as I walk by, or could even jab me in the eye.

fallen Phoenix canariensis palm leaf in a succulent garden makes a treacherous obstacle thanks to the modified leaf spines (left); right shows another species of Phoenix: Phoenix theophrasti, probably the king of the spines in the Phoenix genus

Calamus caryotoides, like many Rattan Palms, have whips and cirri that are modified leaflets used for climbing (these are climbing palms and climb up other vegetation in the jungle). These cirri are long, thin and heavily armed with extremely sharp hooks that tend to grab onto what ever walks by too close. It is an attractive palm, but a really dangerous one to plant anywhere near a pathway.

Other palms have toothless petioles, but that does not always mean there is nothing dangerous about them. The petiolar blades themselves can be sharp as knives pn some fan palms and one still needs to be cautious when trimming these species, or particularly if one is foolish enough to try to climb one.

Bismarckia (left) and Borrasodendron sp. (right) have knife-like blades

Above is a Sabal mauritiiformis petiole that I personally have been lacerated by

And even the leaves themselves can be lethal on some species- with tips so sharp who needs teeth or spines?

So if being punctured or lacerated is not enough of a danger, other palms can be dangerous thanks to gravity. Some of the larger species can drop leaves that weigh over fifty pounds each. A mature Royal Palm (Roystonea species) can let loose a 60 pound frond that can not only deliver a nasty blow, but do a great deal of serious property damage to whatever it crushes below. Even the common King Palm can unleash a twenty pound frond now and then that can at least give on a respectable bruise.

Royal in Southern California in private garden (left). Since this photo was taken, the owner sold the palm and had it moved since the fronds had damaged multiple vehicles parked below. Left shows a row of Roystonea oleraceas along a mall parking area in Hawaii, but no parking allowed near these palms

Royal and King palms in zoo (left) far from where they falling leaves can knock someone in the head… hope the flamingos are paying attention. Right shows another very tall species with extremely heavy leaves: Ceroxylon ventricosum. Fortunately these leaves tend to fall straight down, with the leaf base hugging the trunk the whole way down, so this one is a bit less hazardous to have along a sidewalk or driveway

Coconut palms are well known for their heavy, solid fruits being dangerous to pedestrians and automobiles below, and many tropical inhabitants have been badly injured by these heavy, coconut-milk-filled bombs. Borassus and Loedicia species have respectable gravity-propelled weaponry as well.

Coconuts are loading with dangerous weapons (see left); Right shows fallen coconut seeds that have fallen on a lawn (photo Thaumturgist)

If you live in the Seychelle Islands, walking below the palms can be even more hazardous as that is the home of Lodoicea, the Double Coconut, aptly named due to the massive seed these palms make. Photo on right is of a naked seed weighing over fifty pounds before it was hollowed out. This is a rare and hard to grow species and each seed can run as much as $450 US.

Borassus flabilifer fruits make potential lethal bombs as well, weighing about five pounds each (left); right is Borassus flabilifer in fruit

And if you are not convinced that a falling palm leaf or seed can injure you, what of a falling palm? Though in many cases palms are much less likely to come down in high winds than most other trees, some palms can not only be blown over, but seem to simply fall over for no reason, even on a calm day. Caryotas, for whatever reason, tend to do this, and though not commonly grown in yards throughout the world, still manage to inflict major property damage to those that do favor these species, thanks to their incredibly solid woody trunks and top-heavy leafy crowns.

Queen palm fallen on a parked car (left)- planted in too wet soil too shallowly; right shows a Caryota gigas getting tall enough to do some serious damage should it just decide to fall over

Though palms, in general, are among some of the least toxic of the tropical foliage plants in cultivation, some have toxic fruits. Caryotas and Arenga species have oxylates in the fleshy coating surrounding their seeds that not only are toxic, but can cause physical pain if handled carelessly, as the oxylates cause a stinging sensation.

Arenga engleri fruit (left) and Arenga pinnata fruit on the ground (right). Even walking on this fruit with bare feet can result in a toxic dermatitis

Arenga australisica fruit (left) and Caryota mitis fruit (right). Both a extremely irritating if eaten or even handled roughly

Areca catechu, aka Betel Nut Palm, has fruits commonly munched on by local residents in and near Thailand. This fruit is moderately toxic in that it is a mild stimulant but can have an addictive property. Sucking on Betel Nuts can damage teeth and gums over time, not to mention permanently staining these tissues orange.

Note: Cycas species (eg ‘Sago Palms’) are NOT palms, but are cycads. They are indeed extremely poisonous, but I have not included cycads in this discussion because they are not palms, despite their common name)

And though most are not poisonous, some palms drop vast amounts of seeds that can create other minor hazards, from a rotting, slippery mush, or a ball-bearing-covered sidewalk, to potential indigestible foreign bodies in pets and children, who sometimes eat the fruits and carelessly swallow the hard seeds inside whole. I have personally removed several Queen palm seed intestinal blockages from pets over the years.

Butia capitata (left) and Dypsis decaryi (right) fruits on ground make a slippery hazard when they are rotten and gooey

Fruits eaten by pets or children can lead to intestinal blockages as their seeds are often too large to pass through the guts (Wodyetia left). Right fruits are of Butia capitata and are very tasty, so eating them is very tempting

Addtional dangers of palms could include harboring disease-carrying pests. Washingtonia palms are well known for being a large apartment complex for all sorts of vermin from rats and mice, spiders and scorpions and all sorts of birds (pigeons and owls most commonly, though owls are rarely considered pests).

Washingtonia robustas with full skirts probably full fo all sorts of surprises… this is why most publically planted palms are trimmed regularly

Last, but not least is the possible danger of seeing a palm so beautiful one simply drops dead in amazement…

Palm Tree With Thorns Stock Photos and Images

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  • Palm tree fronds with thorns
  • Palm Tree that has Bottle-Shaped Trunk Studded With Thick Conical Thorns
  • Close up of bark on a palm tree
  • Close-up Of Palm Tree
  • sharp thorns on a giant palm tree in Bako National Park in Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia
  • Palm tree thorns
  • A close up photograph of a small palm tree.
  • Flawless, stunning cultivated Chocho palm, astrocaryum mexicanum, at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Madagascar palm tree, blue sky
  • Pachypodium lamerei trunk with large thorns. Madagascar palm trunk and thorns pattern
  • Aiphanes minima – macaw palm tree trunk.
  • Thorns of palm treein rainforest at Bako National Park. Sarawak. Borneo. Malaysia. Selective focus
  • Spines on a palm tree in the Amazon rainforest near Manaus
  • The spikes of a Madagaskar palm tree Pachypodium lamerei
  • Close-up of the long, thin, sharps spines on the trunk of a peach palm tree.
  • Beautiful sunset view thru date palm tree
  • Phoenix canariensis frond in front of blue sky
  • Coconut Palm; Niu; coco; Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden Nature Preserve; Big Island, Hawaii, USA
  • palm thorn on green leaf, If its punctures your skin, perform basic first aid immediately and keep an eye on the wound as inflammation requires medic
  • The thorny trunk of a Ceiba Speciosa (Ravenna Malvaceae) better known as Silk Floss Tree at Palmengarten in Frankfurt am Main.
  • Club Foot Tree – Pachypodium Lamerei – Dogbane Family
  • Green tree trunk with grey thorns, macro
  • California barrel cactus
  • Cholla garden in Joshua Tree National Park California
  • Detail of thorns on a tropical palm tree stem
  • Mix-color Bougainvillea Spectabilis tree, Bonsai Exhibition Pune Shivajinagar, Pune, Maharashtra, India
  • Flawless, stunning cultivated Chocho palm, astrocaryum mexicanum, at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Tropical plants at the Stanley and Livingstone Hotel near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Africa.
  • Burning Thorns,
  • background of dried palm leaves in the light of sunset
  • Pachypodium Lamerei Madagascar Palm also called Club Foot
  • Dates on a date palm
  • Close up of cactus thorns
  • Sydney Australia, Madagascar palm tree silhouetted against a blue sky
  • tropical palm tree from the arecaceae family native in mauritius
  • Sydney Australia, flowering Madagascar palm tree silhouetted against a blue sky
  • France, French Guiana, Kourou, Wapa Lodge, drop of dew on the thorns of a palm tree
  • palm thorn on green leaf, If its punctures your skin, perform basic first aid immediately and keep an eye on the wound as inflammation requires medic
  • Sydney Australia, spiky tree trunk and branches of a Madagascar palm tree silhouetted against a blue sky
  • Exotic tree with sharp thorns. Green blurry background.
  • Frontispiece to ´Eikon Basilike´. Artist: Wenceslaus Hollar (Bohemian, Prague 1607-1677 London); Date: 1649; Medium: Etching, only state; Dimensions:
  • California barrel cactus
  • AMA 80624 : plant leaves thorns rocks shadow palm tree The Artist Supreme
  • Detail of thorns on a tropical palm tree stem
  • Dioon spinulosum close up
  • Pachypodium lamerei, Madagascar Palm, tree trunk covered with sharp needles the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Palm trees and Bougainvillea near the Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe, Africa.
  • Glowing thorns
  • vertical background of dried palm leaves in sunset light
  • Salak (Salacca zalacca) is a species of palm tree native to Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. It is cultivated in other regions of Indonesia as a food cr
  • View for palm fronds of a date palm (lat: Phoenix canariensis) isolated against sommelich blue sky.
  • Leaves of palm tree on blue sky background.
  • A leaf-folding frog (Afrixalus sp) on a thorny palm trunk at night in Atewa Range Forest Reserve, Ghana, West Africa
  • tropical palm tree from the arecaceae family native in mauritius
  • Cholla cactus 7623
  • Closeup of a variety of cacti, palm trees and other plants.
  • Sydney Australia, tree trunk of a Pachypodium lamerei with rough texture and spikes
  • tree trunk close up of roystonea regia arecaceae
  • palm thorn on green leaf, If its punctures your skin, perform basic first aid immediately and keep an eye on the wound as inflammation requires medic
  • A spectacular dry season sunset silhouettes real fan palm trees that line the fringes of the Katisunga floodplains.
  • Dollar Joint Prickly Pear
  • Palm tree thorns
  • Detail of the thorny trunk of a Pachypodium lamerei plant. It is a stem succulent and comes from the island Madagascar
  • Dioon spinulosum close up
  • Pachypodium lamerei, Madagascar Palm, tree trunk covered with sharp needles the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • treetrunk has long spikes on one side. smooth soft surface all round, except for these unexpected thorns.
  • Burning Thorns,
  • dry palm leaf covering the sun at sunset, in the background you can see other palm trees out of focus
  • cactus
  • Salak (Salacca zalacca) is a species of palm tree native to Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. It is cultivated in other regions of Indonesia as a food cr
  • View for palm fronds of a date palm (lat: Phoenix canariensis) isolated against sommelich blue sky.
  • Branch with thorns in the jungle of Thailand
  • Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii lutea
  • Cholla cactus 7632
  • Aiphanes caryotifolia Palm, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens Pamplemousses Mauritius Indian Ocean
  • Leaves of palm tree on white background
  • tree trunk close up of roystonea regia arecaceae
  • Red and brown thorns on rose branch
  • Cacti with red berries, palm trees and blue sky.
  • Dollar Joint Prickly Pear
  • various blossoming red roses at Rosedal rose park, Buenos Aires
  • Cacti with red berries
  • Dioon spinulosum close up
  • Pachypodium lamerei, Madagascar Palm, tree trunk covered with sharp needles the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Three green flowers
  • Bougainvillea bush growing in the gardens at da’Vidas, Crocus Bay, Anguilla, BWI.
  • dry palm leaf covering the bright of the sun, in the background you can see other palm trees out of focus
  • sun shining on cacti
  • Salak (Salacca zalacca) is a species of palm tree native to Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. It is cultivated in other regions of Indonesia as a food cr
  • Detail of Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech
  • prickly cactus closeup. Thorny plants are great for closeups and detail pics
  • Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii lutea
  • Cholla cactus 7630
  • macro shot close up of a winter flower
  • Madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerei var. lamerei)
  • Arabian man in front of Bedouin tent in Dubai heritage area sawing of thorny edges in date palm branch.
  • Aiphanes caryotifolia, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens Pamplemousses Mauritius Indian Ocean
  • Yellow Orchid, Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii splendens
  • Dollar Joint Prickly Pear
  • various blossoming red roses at Rosedal rose garden, Buenos Aires

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Breaking news

He hasn’t pulled out the palms because “they look great and I suppose I consider it my own fault”.
Faulkner says he now wears “high impact robust industrial gloves” when pruning and does it with great care.


A report to the annual Annual Scientific Congress of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons this month on “penetrating palm frond injuries” called for palm tree owners to wear the right protective gear.
Gold Coast orthopaedics surgeon Anthony Silva reported on a review of 45 palm frond injuries that ended up in hospital.

Forty injuries affected the body and five damaged eyes. About two-thirds came from people gardening, the rest were work-related.
The injuries included bits of spike left behind as well as wound infections. Half the patients needed surgery to get bits of spike out.

Silva said tests showed leather and latex-coated gloves prevented spike wounds 18/20 and 19/20 times respectively, while cloth gloves were ineffective.
Wellington-based Treescape business manager Kevin Birdsall says even with the right safety equipment and right techniques, his arborists still get damaged by the spikes.
“I have had a few guys had to go to the doctor because the tips have broken off inside. A bit of local and doctors pop them out.

“I’ve had guys who have had them in their arms, hands, legs … I’ve had one guy stand on one and it went through his boot. One guy got one in his lip. He was cutting with a chainsaw and it flicked up. So you get them all over the place, it’s not just getting spikes in the hands.”
Birdsall recommends home owners use experts to do palm maintenance. If they must do it themselves, he says use puncture-resistant gloves. The palms need pruning before the fronds die and fall to the ground where children can come in contact with the dangerous spikes.

​”When the spikes die back from the dead frond they get a fungus on the tip. It’s that fungus that causes the harm. The spikes do hurt and cause a bit of an injury, but when it leaves some fungus inside as well it creates an infection,” Birdsall says.


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