One of the most confusing aspects of palm tree care is seed pod maintenance. Some species of palm trees, such as the queen palm, are known for producing large numbers of unsightly seed pods.
Removing seed pods is not necessary for a palm tree’s health, although it is perfectly safe for gardeners to remove the seed pods if they desire.
Reasons for removing the seed pods or fruits of a palm tree range from improving the aesthetics to preventing the mess that occurs when the pods fall off of the tree.
As with most aspects of palm tree care, the specifics of seed pod removal depend on the species of the palm. In some species, the seed pods are toxic, requiring gardeners to wear protective gear while removing them to avoid skin contact.
How frequently a palm tree produces seed pods depends on the species of the tree.
Most palm trees produce seeds annually after reaching maturity, which is a process that could take as long as five years in some species.
Seedpods are not the only thing you need to prune off a palm tree. Dead palm leaves need to also be removed every year or so and mid-spring is a perfect time to do so.
How often should seeds be removed?
Most experts will tell you to trim your palm trees at least twice a year. In my experience once per year will suffice.
It does depend on your expectations for aesthetic appeal. As most palm trees only produce seed pods once per year, there is only really the need to have your palm trimmed as it is flowering and before it seeds.
Palms should be trimmed in warm months because they cannot heal well if a frost occurs. They are also more susceptible to diseases during the winter months. Once in April or May would be perfect.
Palm trees located in high traffic areas should have their seed pods removed as the pods are flowering and before they fruit. The debris from falling fruit and seed pods is a potential hazard and usually results in an unpleasant mess on the ground.
How much should it cost to trim a palm tree?
The cost of trimming a palm tree depends on several factors, but you should generally expect to pay somewhere in the range of $50 – $75 for standard palm trees like Queen palm and Mexican palms, but the price can range right up to $500 for bigger palms like Date palms.
One of the primary factors in cost is the height of the tree. Taller trees cost more to trim than short ones. Trimming a tree between 30 and 60 feet tall will likely cost between $100 and $350. A tree that is 100 feet tall may cost as much as $800 for a single trimming job.
The condition of the tree also matters. Palm trees that are trimmed regularly cost less because there is less work to be done.
Although a tree’s height and condition are the two main factors in the price of a trimming job, other things can influence the price as well.
Emergency work, such as trimming branches that were damaged during a storm, will cost significantly more than routine maintenance. You will also pay more to have a tree trimmed if the arborist you hire has to travel outside of their usual service area.
Will it grow faster after a seed pod trim?
Some gardeners believe that trimming the seed pods of a palm tree will make the tree grow faster, but this is simply an urban legend. There is no evidence that the removal of a palm tree’s seed pods will make it grow faster.
In fact, too much unnecessary trimming may damage the tree and slow down its growth rate. The only circumstance in which a palm tree absolutely must be trimmed is when it has dead or diseased fronds.
Are seeds from palms edible or are they toxic?
Whether or not palm seeds are toxic depends on the species of the palm tree. Most kinds are edible, although they do not always taste good in the seed stage. Palm trees produce a variety of fruit that people all over the world love, such as coconuts, dates, and acai berries.
Acai berries are a particularly healthy treat. Packed with antioxidants and healthy fats, acai berries are considered a superfood by doctors and nutritionists.
One species to avoid is the Formosa palm tree, also known as the dwarf sugar palm or Taiwanese sugar palm. The oxalates in this tree’s toxic seeds and fruits cause severe skin irritation if touched. Solitary fishtail palms are another species whose seeds should be avoided. The seeds of this tree also cause skin irritation when touched.
Finally, there is the areca palm, which produces a highly carcinogenic fruit. When consumed, this fruit may cause a rapid heartbeat and hypertension. Regular consumption is linked to mouth and throat cancer. Anyone who plans to handle the seeds or fruits of these three palm tree species should wear protective gear.