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How to Make a Pygmy Date Palm Trunk Smooth

Jacob J. Wright

Growing 6 to 10 feet tall with trunk diameter in the 3- to 4-inch range, pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) displays a feathery mophead of fronds. Often nursery growers clump multiple plants to create a more architecturally interesting silhouette in production containers. The trunk of this miniature palm never becomes perfectly smooth. Lower trunk parts may lose brown thatch but still reveal a coarse, knobby surface from old leaf bases. More thatch and frond bases linger up higher just under the leafy canopy and persist for several years, gradually falling off after dehydration and fiber decomposition.

  1. Put on protective leather gloves, hat and eye goggles before working around the pygmy date palm. Thorns on frond stem bases and falling debris pose potential hazards.

  2. Tug at the thatch and old, persistent frond stems under the canopy of leaves with your gloved hand. Remove as much thatch and dried debris as possible to clear the trunk. Most of this thicket of thatch and previously pruned frond bases must remain to protect the growing tip on the trunk.

  3. Hold the top of the trunk with your hand and place the hand-held pruning saw blade upward into the base of thatch against the trunk. Saw upward to help remove any unattractive, lingering thatch and leaf bases to create a tidier, even look.

  4. Put on a hard hat with face guard. Chainsaw blades violently throw cutting debris.

  5. Run the edge of the cutting blades on a small chainsaw on the many small hard nubs on the pygmy date palm trunk. These scarred ridges are hard and uneven and may not easily cut to create a smoother looking trunk. Moreover, you risk creating uneven cutting scars and obvious trunk color variations if you choose to remove the rough tissues on the palm's bark. Do not cut deeply, as palms cannot heal puncture or cutting wounds in their trunk.