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You might love the frilly look of a fan palm tree, or maybe prefer the understated beauty of a pygmy date palm.

But whatever your style, one thing’s for sure: palm trees with discolored leaves aren’t so good-looking. When palm trees are affected by a pest or disease, their leaves can take on a couple of different colors. Here, let’s talk about white spots on palm tree leaves— what are they, and where’d they come from? Most importantly, do white spots mean your palm tree is dying?

Keep reading for a quick rundown on why palm leaves turn white and what you can do.

What are these white spots on my palm tree’s leaves?

There are two common reasons why palm leaves might be spotted white. You’ll want to take a close look at your tree to figure out what’s what.

Why your palm fronds have white spots

Some palm trees, such as Pygmy date palms, have waxy surfaces which appear as tiny white spots on the leaves. This is normal and is nothing to worry about.

More plump, white “spots” that are slightly raised point to a scale insect infestation. A common critter that attacks sago palms is the cycad scale. When lots of scale pests invade your palm, they make leaves look as if they’re covered in white spots. Plus, leaves will likely turn yellow or brown as the insects drain nutrients from the plant.

Is my palm tree dying?

A scale insect infestation can be serious. If these persistent pests stick around long enough, the plant can eventually die.

Unfortunately, once scale insects are on your tree, there’s no guarantee it can be saved. But, if you catch them early on and take action right away, there’s a chance you can eliminate scale insects.

Here’s what to do:

Consult with a Davey certified arborist to determine the best course of action. Many scale insects are difficult to control with horticultural oils and require special applications of systemic insecticides.

Schedule a free consultation for professional advice on your palm tree’s health.

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