En Español

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?

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
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

Are Chilean Mesquite pods poisonous to dogs?
July 12, 2010 - Are chilean Mesquite tree pods poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Skin irritation caused by blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.)
January 29, 2005 - Could you tell me whether it is the leaves or the spent flower heads, the seed heads, that cause irritation to bare legs after walking through a field of Indian Blankets? Gallardia I believe is the La...
view the full question and answer

Safety of hyrbrid and non-native trees for dogs and horses from Lawton OK
March 25, 2013 - Are Arrowwood Viburnum tree, Sargent Crabapple tree & the Washington Hawthorn tree safe for dogs & horses?
view the full question and answer

Itchy hands from handling Lantana plants
September 13, 2009 - I am in Ocala,FL. I pick up with my hands branches from a cut down Lantana Plant. My hands are very itchy, what can I do. THANK YOU FOR YOU.
view the full question and answer

Western Poison Oak Sap Transfer
January 26, 2016 - My partner is a park ranger and constantly exposed to poison oak. He gets infected sometimes but mostly seems to tolerate it pretty well. I, on the other hand, keep getting reinfected with it, all ove...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center