Pygmy Date Palm – Friend or Foe

Pygmy Date Palm Phoenix roebellini

Pygmy Date Palm
Phoenix roebellini

I had a Pygmy Date Palm installed last year in front of my house. This is a dwarf palm rarely exceeding 10 feet in height and it looks great in front of my bathroom window. I selected a triple trunk palm to accent the house and landscape because as the largest element in the foundation planting  it needed some mass.

These palms are native to Southeast Asia and are common in South Florida. They actually do bear dates, but a male and female plant is required. I am perfectly happy without dates. Dates have always reminded me of roaches and I just don’t like to eat them.

I let the palm grow for about a year before attempting to prune it. Pruning done right reveals a trunk that resembles neatly stacked rows of whole wheat crackers- I have heard these called Triscuit Trees. What is not mentioned is the enormous spines at the base of the palm fronds. The spines are up to two inches long. Somewhere in a jungle I think Pygmies used these for poison darts. Later in the week I was talking to a physician, these palms are well known to the medical community due to the thorns. Wounds from the thorns tend to fester and cause infection.

While getting into the holiday spirit I decided to wrap the trunks with miniature white lights. It would have been wise to drink some spirits and don opera length leather gloves before attempting this. As I was decorating I was skewered through the hand and the thorn hit a vein; I now have a 3 inch bruise on my hand that looks terrible. Then I got stabbed in the head and decided to stop for a moment and go in the house. It took a while to get the thorn out of my hand and the bleeding from my head wound staunched. Duly anointed with antibiotic ointment, I persevered and completed my light display, then waited for darkness.

Ahh, holiday magic.



12 comments on “Pygmy Date Palm – Friend or Foe

  1. mattb325 says:

    My, how you’ve suffered for your art! But the lights sure look amazing. I hope your wounds have healed 🙂


  2. Gillian says:

    I thought this sort of thing only happened to me! So glad I found your blog Shrub Queen. Looking forward to reading more. Hope you have a lovely (and pain free) Christmas!


  3. Chloris says:

    It looks beautiful illuminated like that but what a vicious creature it is. I hope you are healing now. It is a bit like Pyracantha which stabs you with vicious thorns which fester even if you are just passing by.


  4. Yes. When going into battle, one must don proper armour. I have a few scratches myself, from my Christmas arrangement-making expeditions. Plus, one thorn from the Christmas cactus. (sneaky little devils, those thorns.)


  5. LOVE how you illuminated it…really classy look!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s