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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.

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

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Monday - May 03, 2010

From: Funville, HI
Region: Hawaii
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Are palm tree leaves poisonous?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, I am doing a "Menu" on Hawaii and I was wondering if palm tree leaves are edible. I have to make menu items and i was thinking palm tree leaves could be included.. If you know please answer! Thanks!

ANSWER:

We think you may be having a little fun with us, because there is no such place, apparently, as "Funville, HI."

There are approximately 202 genera and 2200 species of palm trees, so there is no telling what palm you are speaking of. As they are mostly tropical plants, very few are native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center only has plants native to North America (excluding Mexico) in our Native Plant Database; one of which is  Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm), native to California. A number of palms have fruits, such as the Coconut Palm, which yield edible fruits or oils that are used in cooking, but we found no mention that any of the leaves of palms were edible.  In fact, the fronds of Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm) are known to be poisonous. This characteristic could very well be present in the leaves of many other palm species. We would suggest you could use them as a table decoration, but not on the menu.


 

 

 

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