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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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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!

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Monday - October 18, 2010

From: Redding, CA
Region: California
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Are the leaves of the Fruitless Palm Tree poisonous in Redding California?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Are Fruitless Palm Tree leaves poisonous? I was poked in the hand with a leaf of one of the branches. It was a dead leaf/Branch? Please Help!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants certainly hopes that you are not waiting for an answer from us before seeking medical attention! Click on this link to the Mayo Clinic regarding puncture wounds before proceeding further in the answer.

The problem here is that the name  Fruitless Palm Tree is a common name (perhaps used  only locally) and is not readily findable in the data bases that we use. The family Arecaceae (aka Palmae) contains the the "Palms", and there are an estimated 2600 species worldwide, distributed generally in the tropics and subtropics. One of the most cold hardy palms is Trachycarpus fortunei whicn can be grown as far north as British Columbia. Click on the link and see if this looks like the palm that you have.

When we are asked about toxic plants, we usually go to the databases listed below.

Toxic Plants of Texas

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

California Poison Action Line

 

I looked through these sites, but couldn't find the palm that attacked you. The folks at the Shasta County Office of the Universisty of California Cooperative Extension could provide help with determining the botanical name of the Fruitless Palm Tree. This would make using the toxic plant databases more fruitful.

 

 

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