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?

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
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

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 oleanders poisonous?
July 18, 2008 - Are Oleanders poisonous?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Georgia
September 14, 2011 - I saw the same question that I was going to ask about the plant that folds its leaves at dusk, with sparse branches, rapid growth, small yellow flowers and long (whisker-like, but do not appear to be ...
view the full question and answer

Wild plums for jelly from Conroe TX
December 18, 2012 - Do wild plum trees grow in my area? I want to get some next summer to make plum jelly.
view the full question and answer

Digging wild buttercup from roadside in Mechanicsville MD
May 28, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, is it illegal to dig out wild buttercup in Maryland? I see them along the dirt road or just in the ditch. Since buttercup considered weed, I'm wondering what the law say about this...
view the full question and answer

How to get rid of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
April 25, 2007 - Our school grounds are infested with lots of poison ivy. What is best remedy for extensive growth?
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