Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

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.

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Is Purple Hopseed poisonous to dogs?
September 03, 2011 - Is the Purple Hopseed plant safe for dogs? We would like to plant a hedge of the purple hopseed at my parents home. They are elderly and have a small (8lb.) dog that they just love so much..I would ...
view the full question and answer

Is Asclepias incarnata poisonous to dogs?
June 13, 2012 - Is Asclepias incarnata safe in a farm/yard with plenty of dogs running around? What happens if a dog eats the leaves or seeds or pods? Is eating any of these fatal to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Recommended plants for horse farm in Lansford PA
April 22, 2010 - Recently started a small horse farm in northeast Pennsylvania just east of the Pocono Mountain plateau. Located in a foggy valley adjacent to a lake. Snowy, cold winters; wet springs; dry summers; ni...
view the full question and answer

Hedgerow plants non-toxic to horses
April 07, 2012 - What would be a good, fast growing, hedgerow plant that is NON-POISONOUS TO HORSES? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of Peruvian Lilies (Alstroemeria sp) for food decoration
September 04, 2006 - Hi, I am trying to find out if I can decorate a cake using live alstroemeria laid on top of the icing. I would not want to eat the flower, just lay it on top to look pretty before removing and servi...
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.