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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 24, 2010

From: Miami, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Palm trees turning orange in Miami
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Why are my palm trees turning orange?

ANSWER:

There are currently about 202 known genera of palms and 2600 species worldwide, so we don't know exactly what you have. We know of 7 native to North America, although many people who have questioned us about damage to their palms turned out to be referring to Sago Palms, which are not palms but cycads, and not native to North America. 

With the very bad winter in many parts of the United States, we have been blaming discoloration of palms on unexpected cold; perhaps they were planted out of their normal habitat or in an area that got too cold during one of the storms. It seems to us that palms should be okay, in terms of climate, in the Miami area. We looked a little further, and found out there is a palm disease called "Lethal Yellowing." Now, we understand you described the discoloration on your palms as orange, but maybe "lethal yellowing" sounds better than "lethal oranging." Anyway, this University of Florida Extension article on Lethal Yellowing of Palms describes how the palms are infected, and what is going on as far as control. 

Beyond that, we are a little at a loss, since so few of the palms grown in North America are native, and we are all about plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. We found several websites that might yield more information for you, particularly if you are able to identify the genus and species of the plants you have.

The International Palm Society

Palm and Cycad Society of Florida

Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society

Here is a list of the plants with the name "palm" in their common name that are native to North America. Perhaps you will find your palm in these, and can search the Internet on that specific name for better information.

Acoelorraphe wrightii (Everglades palm)

Coccothrinax argentata (Florida silver palm)

Rhapidophyllum hystrix (needle palm)

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto)

Sabal palmetto (cabbage palmetto)

Serenoa repens (saw palmetto)

Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm)

Pictures of Acoelorraphe wrightii (Everglades palm) from Google 

Pictures of Coccothrinax argentata (Florida silver palm) from Google

From our Native Plant Image Gallery: 


Rhapidophyllum hystrix

Sabal minor

Sabal palmetto

Serenoa repens

Washingtonia filifera

 

 

 

 

 

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