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Hi there, we have recently moved house, the palm tree (according to the previous owners has been there over 16 years planted by themselves). The tree has been shedding its leaves over the winter months, which we thought was normal, however now we think it may have died as the top seems wilted and the trunk seems to have some (not too much)what appears to be a fungus on it. The strange thing is that all the same palm trees in our area seems to have the same problem. Please can you give us some information as to what may be happening or what we should do, thanking you in anticipation. Kind regards Eileen Abela

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Hello Eileen, W/D here.
Palms will reabsorb some of their nutrients when fronds are shed, even over winter. If possible, you should let the ugly fronds go, and allow the trunk to take back what's stored in the frond stems. When they become brown, or less green, or droop, they can be pruned. This is usually found with the lower fronds. If upper fronds exhibit these symptoms, it is usually from the effects of winter, but the same rules apply, except that you can trim partial fronds to get rid of the brown leaves.
The acid test for a palm is, if there are shoots in the middle of the canopy protruding, to pull on them firmly, but not aggressively. If the shoots pull out easily, the palm is probably dead. Some winters are more brutal than others, and palms take the worst of them. We double-cover our palms, and place lights inside of the covering that we make, and the larger ones have made it over winter now for about 5 years. I have used incandescent Christmas lights wrapped around the trunk and hung in the canopies, then covered and it worked well too. One friend slaved his Christmas lights to his pool pump control panel, only to lose his palms. Seems that he was using LED lights, which put out no heat. Queen palms have died in droves this, and last year, as have unprotected Robellinis. Washingtonians and Pindos have fared better. If you live in a coastal zone, you still need to cover and keep your palms warm through the worst of winter. We have used fitted sheets on the smaller canopies to contain the fronds, then covered that with plastic tarps, weighted down on the sides to form a mini greenhouse, and it works pretty well, but it's inconvenient. With spring here, there will be a lot of new outdoor umbrellas purchased, and the old ones will be pitched. We already have picked one up from a neighbor, and will erect it over one of the palms, then cover it as described. The thinking here that it should be much easier (and quicker) to protect the palms via this method.
As for the fungus noted, try light applications of a fungicide, but check first with a local nurseryman to see what works best in your area.
Hope that this is of some help.
Best regards, (and please rate this solution), --W/D--

Posted on Apr 02, 2011

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