Garden Detective

Queen palm is healthy – and male

The frizzly thing on this queen palm is a male flower – and bees love it.
The frizzly thing on this queen palm is a male flower – and bees love it.

Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.

Q: Are you familiar with what this ugly bright yellow frizzle top frond is growing in our queen palm tree? It starts out as a large pointed cone up off the trunk, then it breaks up and is this frizzly-looking thing that the bees love. They just seem to cling and swirl around it. We have had three queen palm trees for about 10 years and last year this same thing appeared in the same tree.

When I look this up on the internet, I found information about a frizzle frond that is black and the tree needs manganese sulfate. As you can see, it is not black, but yellow straw color. It eventually dries up and we have to clip it out. I would appreciate hearing from you about what this could be and what we can do about it.

Laura Courson,


Bee garden writer Debbie Arrington: There’s nothing to worry about. Your queen is a king – those are male date palm flowers, and perfectly healthy.

Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) are one of the most popular landscape palms in California because of their beautiful tropical appearance and low maintenance. Although native to the tropics and subtropics, this palm has great cold tolerance once established and can survive temperatures down to 15 degrees F. (Young or newly transplanted queen palms may need some frost protection.)

Native to Brazil and Argentina, this palm is also very fast growing, adding 6 feet a year until it reaches maturity at 30 to 40 feet tall. The leaves range from 5 to 15 feet long. Due to their shallow roots and big leaves, these palms are prone to fall over in high winds.

In the home landscape, the male queen palm is preferable to the female, which bears clusters of creamy white flowers. In early winter, datelike fruit forms, which turns orange at maturity and eventually falls to the ground. These dates are not edible, but attract insects. When they fall, they can create a sticky mess under the tree.

The Bee’s Debbie Arrington is a consulting rosarian and lifelong gardener., 916-321-1075, @debarrington.

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