En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Are palm leaves poisonous?

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Monday - August 18, 2008

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Are palm leaves poisonous?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Are palm tree leaves poisionous? Because my dad was doing yard work and was stuck by a palm tree leaf in his calf. His calf has swollen and in he thinks it broke off in his calf.

ANSWER:

There are a goodly number of different palm trees in California. Here are just a few:

Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm), native to California

Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm), a native of the the Canary Islands

Phoenix spp. (other date palms), various nativities

Brahea edulis (Guadalupe Palm), native to Mexico and Guadalupe Island

Brahea armata (Mexican blue palm), native Baja California

Howea forsteriana (Kentia palm), native to Lord Howe Island, Australia

Archontophoenix cunninghamiana (Bungalow palm), another Australian species

I don't know which species your father was 'attacked' by, but you can read about the dermatological effects caused by various species of palms in the Botanical Dermatology Database (BoDD) from Cardiff University in Wales. They offer an assessment of many of the palms in the Family Arecaceae (syn. Palmae). You will note that their introduction page cites a study in Panama from 1943 that says palm frond thorn injuries (palm species not named) are noted for causing infections. Their entry for Phoenix loureiri (pigmy date palm) says:

"The spine-tip may be broken off and serve as a foreign body but a chemical irritant may also be present in the thorns..."

According to Forests Factsheet. a publication of the State of Victoria, Australia the fronds of Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm) are poisonous.

So there is a good chance that the thorn of whichever palm entered your father's leg has some chemical irritant in it. However, whether it does or not, puncture wounds of any kind are notorious for becoming infected. This is why it is important to remove the thorn as soon as possible and thoroughly clean the wound. Read what the Mayo Clinic has to say about puncture wounds.


Washingtonia filifera

Washingtonia filifera

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Are the berries of Gun bumelia poisonous to dogs from Willow Park TX
February 13, 2014 - We have been told we have a Bumelia Lanuginosa (Chittamwood) tree in our yard. My dog has been eating the berries. (She has had stomach issues for several months and only recently found out she has ...
view the full question and answer

Bugbane Leaf Blotch
January 24, 2013 - My bugbanes (Cimicifuga/Actaea) seem to suffer from black blotches on the leaves in the summer. This happens even when they have adequate moisture. I also see it on the ones growing wild. Is this a fu...
view the full question and answer

Pruning the leaves of Sago Palm.
March 10, 2010 - Is it a cardinal sin to remove all the sago palm branches? This winter they were so badly scorched by the cold that hardly a frond went unaffected. So I cut them all off as I needed to get around the...
view the full question and answer

Reaction to something in the garden from Dowling MI
May 25, 2012 - In late March I was working in my yard raking etc. The next morning I had three black spots between my knee and shin that were swelling and feverish. Two days later the areas became bigger and began...
view the full question and answer

Are magnolia trees toxic for dogs?
February 05, 2014 - Del Mar, California- are magnolia trees, (their bark, roots, pods) toxic to small dogs? My Westie terriers are exhibiting lack of appetite and diarrea this late winter. Tonight I saw on our local n...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center