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Thursday - June 25, 2009

From: Sacramento, CA
Region: California
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Palm tip wound in Sacramento CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My husband was stuck in his calf with a palm leaf, he is now complaining of stiffness where it went in, is there any kind of poison in it?


We had a virtually identical question recently, also from California, and would like to repeat our answer to that:

"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."

Bottom line: we think you would be better off seeing a doctor. Medical problems are way out of our line.

Washingtonia filifera

Washingtonia filifera






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