En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


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
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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 25, 2009

From: Anna Maria, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Are palm leaves poisonous?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in a second story house surronded by various types of palm trees on the west coast of Florida. My 1 year old son crawls on the decks and tries to taste all of the palm leaves that sneak through. I'm concerned for the fact that they could be poisonous. Can you tell me which ones to look out for? Should I have them all cut back? Thanks.


Mr. Smarty Plants checked the following toxic plant databases and could find no species of palm in the Family Arecaceae (Palm Family) listed in any of these:

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

University of Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants

Texas Toxic Plant Database

The Botanical Dermatology Database (BoDD), however, lists several species of the palm family as having skin irritants.  I'm not sure which palm you have (you can see a list of palms observed in Florida from the Central Florida Palm & Cycad Society), but it doesn't appear that any of the palms would be poisonous to eat.  Many of the palms on the list from the Central Florida Palm & Cycad Society are not native to Florida and North America.  The palms native to Florida are listed below and only one of them, Sabal palmetto (cabbage palmetto), is in the BoDD list of palms that have skin irritants. 

That said, however, it is probably not a good idea for your baby to chew on the leaves of the palms.  If it is at all possible, I would suggest that you trim the palm leaves so that they can't be reached by your baby as he crawls on the deck. Skin irritants, if they are in the palm leaves, are probably not a good thing for a baby to ingest.

Palms native to Florida:

Acoelorraphe wrightii (Everglades palm)

Coccothrinax argentata (Florida silver palm)

Rhapidophyllum hystrix (needle palm)

Roystonea elata (Florida royal palm)

Sabal etonia (scrub palmetto)

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto)

Sabal palmetto (cabbage palmetto)

Serenoa repens (saw palmetto)

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

Sabal minor

Sabal palmetto

Serenoa repens




More Poisonous Plants Questions

Can the buds and flowers from my Rhodendron tree be toxic to my puppy? Yes
March 23, 2009 - I recently got a new 7 week old puppy that keeps trying to play with and eat buds and flowers off my Rhododendron tree. Could this be toxic to him?
view the full question and answer

Is any part of flowering peach (Prunus persica) toxic to dogs
April 26, 2009 - I know that peach pits and wilting leaves are poisonous to dogs, but can you tell me if any part of the Red Flowering Peach Tree (no fruit) is toxic?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting adventitious shoots of a mountain laurel in San Antonio
August 20, 2009 - Is it possible to transplant branches (shoots) growing from a mountain laurel that was chopped down? Some are two years old and several feet tall (but not yet blooming) and some as small as a foot. ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shade in Duval County, Florida
September 17, 2014 - What low growing ground cover would be good for a lake edge area. This area is shaded with overlying woodland type trees. I planted some autumn ferns but they have getting overrun with poison ivy. I a...
view the full question and answer

Plum trees (Prunus spp.) poisonous to horses
June 08, 2008 - Are fruitless plum trees poisonous to horses
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center