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Are Palm Tree Thorns Poisonous? (All You Need to Know)

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The palm tree belongs to the Arecaceae family. Most of the palm trees grow in tropical and subtropical regions. The leaves of the palm are evergreen and the unbranched stem contains sharp needle-like thorns.

This article will provide an in-depth answer and offer you deep insights into the thorns of the palm tree – whether the thorns of a palm tree are poisonous or not.

Are palm tree thorns poisonous?

Some species of palm trees are poisonous especially the thorns of the palm holding poison. Those thorns are dangerous. If you touch poisonous thorns, it will cut your fingers and can cause bacterial or fungal infections in the body. But not all thorns of the palm tree are poisonous.

Some palm tree thorns are poisonous. Poisonous thorns are an evolutionary survival product of palm trees. Palm trees develop poisonous thorns in order to keep harmful insects and animals away from the tree.

Thorns are the main protective mechanism of the palm tree to eschew from the herbivores.

Palm tree thorns can readily penetrate the skin of humans and other animals. Poked by a thorn of the palm tree can cause severe tissue damage and lead to irritation, skin burns, swelling and infection. A wounded area is an easy target for fungus and bacteria to infect.

Not all palm trees develop poisonous thorns. Here we have discussed about the thorns of some palm trees –

Sylvester palm:

The thorns of the Sylvester palm tree can be very poisonous. And those tiny little thorns can penetrate inside your arm. Those tiny yet sharp thorns can break off inside your arm and can cause severe infection.

Robellini palm:

The thorns of Robellini palm are poisonous. If you aren’t careful while touching a Robellini palm tree, the sharp and small thorns can penetrate your arm. Thorns containing poison can cause damaging arm infections.

Madagascar palm:

Madagascar palm trees contain dangerously sharp thorns. Ingestion of the leaves and tip of Madagascar palm can be toxic for humans and cats.

Besides, the thorns contain poisonous elements that can cause toxic effects on humans and other animals.

Black palm:

Black palm also contains poisonous thorns. The plants of the black palm family are commonly known for causing skin irritation and general health effects on humans and animals.

The thorns of the Black palm can generate infection and irritation of skins if penetrated into the arms.

Sago palm:

Sago palm is highly poisonous for humans and other animals including cats and dogs. Moreover, not only the thorns of the sago palm are poisonous but the tip and seed also contain toxic elements.

The thorns are toxic to humans and pets as the thorns hold poisonous elements. Ingesting the thorns or slight penetration in the arm can lead to serious health effects.

Pygmy date palm:

The Pygmy date palm is not poisonous like the other palm plants. The thorns aren’t filled with poisonous elements and that’s why pygmy date palm is an ideal palm tree for planting it into the household and office.

Pineapple palm:

The Pineapple palm tree is not as toxic as the other palm species but the thorns of the pineapple palm are tiny and sharp. The thorns can easily cut the skin of the fingers and it can lead to infections.

For this reason, you have to be careful while touching the pineapple palm tree.

Can a palm thorn cause infection?

A palm thorn can cause infection. Palm thorns are very tiny and sharp. The thorns can easily penetrate the arm. Moreover, the thorns break off after the penetration in the arms and it makes the situation worse.

As the thorn breaks off after penetration in the arms, the remaining thorn can lead to severe infection.

The body can’t easily heal itself as small parts of the palm thorns are remaining in the arms. And in the punctured area, microorganisms start to colonize. This leads to severe infection and skin irritation.

And to make the situation worse, the palm thorn contains poisonous elements. When a palm thorn penetrates the arm, poison spread throughout the body. This causes too much irritation and infection in the punctured area.

For this reason, a cut by a palm thorn can cause dangerous health effects.

What happens if you get poked by a palm tree thorn?

Possible outcomes, if you get poked by a palm tree thorn, are discussed hereafter –

Blood and a long-lasting cut:

If you get poked by a palm tree then first you will see a deep cut in the poked area. Palm tree thorns are sharp and syringe-like. The poke will create a microscopic hole in the skin. Blood will rush from the poked area and you will immediately feel irritation in the skin.

Spread of poisonous elements:

Palm thorns contain poisonous elements. As you get poked by a palm tree thorn, the poison within the thorn will get mixed into the bloodstream. As your body senses the poison in the poked area, it will immediately take action.

And this leads to irritation and burn in the affected location of the body. Poison may cause acute bacterial and fungal infections. You will experience pain in the thorn poked area.

The thorn breaks off:

As you get poked by a palm tree thorn, the sharp tinny thorn will break off as it penetrated your skin. The thorn will be collapsed into several tiny pieces. Some parts of the thorn eventually will mix into the bloodstream.

But most of the parts of the thorn will remain attached in the poked area. For this reason, you will experience severe pain and irritation in the thorn poked area.


Bacteria and fungi can easily colonize and replicate in the damaged area. The remaining parts of the thorns in the poked area and the poisonous elements make a suitable situation for the bacteria and fungi to infect.

The microorganism can easily replicate in that situation. And it leads to severe infection in the poked area.

How do you treat a thorn puncture? Treatment for palm tree thorn injury.

Palm tree thorns are sharp and can easily puncture human and animal skin.  A tiny poke can lead to harsh consequences if the injury is not properly treated. The treatments for the palm tree thorn injury are mentioned hereafter –

Wash punctured are:

Wash the thorn punctured area as soon as possible. Wash the wound with clean distilled water. You can use a sterilizer such as a peroxide mixed with water to wash the area. It will clean the punctured area and prevent future infection.

Stop bleeding:

Use gentle pressure in the injured area with a bandage or you can use clean dry clothes to stop bleeding.

Check infections:

Check in the thorn punctured area for possible infection. The infection will lead to swelling and irritation of the skin. You have to see a doctor if you develop fevers and other infection-related symptoms.

Apply antibiotic:

Antibiotic is a vastly used drug to treat bacterial infection. You can use antibiotics to reduce the infection rate. But don’t apply antibiotics without the recommendation of a doctor. Because antibiotic does have some side effects.


Wrap the injured area with a clean bandage or you can use clean dry fabric to cover the infected place.

Change dressing:

You have to change the dressing from time to time and check any possible signs of further infection.

What kind of palm tree has thorns?

Not all types of palm trees hold thorns. Some species of palm trees have thorns. Palm trees grow in the desert area develop thorns. Thorns are a modified auxiliary tip system of plants where leaves diminish and lose life quickly. The leaves of those plants turn into thorns.

Thorns protect the plant from herbivores.

Palm trees grow in water-scarce environments mostly develop thorns. Desert palm has evolutionarily developed a thorn system instead of leaves to save water from respiration. Also, pernicious insects and animals can’t come near the plant because of its sharp thorn system.

Palm trees such as Sylvester palm, Robellini palm, Madagascar palm, black palm, sago palm, pygmy palm, pineapple palm, date palm, etc. have thorns and spikes in their body.   Palm trees with thorns can grow in the most hostile areas of the world.

Palm trees grow in the water-scarce places where normal plants can’t sustain themselves.

Palm trees with thorns can adapt to cold areas. As those types of palm can save water and regulate the amount of respiration. And the poisonous elements inside the thorns protect the tree from the herbivores.

Animals and insects can’t invade those plants easily as they get poked by the thorns of the palm plants.

Final thoughts

Palm tree thorns are poisonous. The thorns of the palm contain poisonous elements which can cause irritation and infection if poked. The thorns of the palm tree are sharp and tiny needle-like things. A thorn can easily penetrate the human skin and can lead to severe irritation and infection.

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