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Thepractice of removing the dead remains of fronds from palm trees is common,though it is not to the benefit of the tree. The old fronds actually protectthe tree from cold winters, so if you skin your tree (or have it done), you addto the potential risk if there is some genuine cold weather.
Often the question is “What do you call – taking all the stubbly fronds off a palm tree?” or “What is skinning a palm tree?”. The photo to left shows a Canary island Palm that is NOT skinned.
Want to try skinning a Phoenix Palm? For a Phoenix Canariensis (Canary Island date palm), you will need a chain saw. Better have plenty of experience with one first, then go take a look at a few that have been skinned.
Their exceptionally thick and strong fronds will have been cut back to the base of the trunk. Often the more experienced trimmer will have shaped this cut to a diamond, this is the most attractive finish.
If youstill think this is something you want to do, what you use to remove the deadfrond ends depends on the tree. A sharp carpet knife works fine on manyvarieties of palm tree where the fronds are relatively thin. Often machetes areused. It is a bit difficult to get all the “hairs” from the frond removed. Butthere is nothing like practice.
Wearprotective leather gloves and goggles. The base of the old fronds might havethorns, and gloves will prove vital to protect you from these and from yourknife if it should slip. Then of course, the risk of falling off the ladder ortree is very real…. Actually the risks associated with this job really indicatethat the hiring of a professional, experienced with good safety procedures andskinning techniques might be the best idea.
On treeswhere a knife will work, pull what's left of one dried frond base down; thiswill give you an idea as to where to cut, if the tree has never been skinned.Once you do this a time or two you'll get the hang of it. Keep going aroundthe tree removing the dead growth. (top)
Do nottrim into the soft tissue of the growing fronds. You will know when to stopskinning when the trunk goes from brown to green and then white (if you trim tothe max). Don't be startled if a lizard or spider comes out from behind thedead growth. You can use a ladder to scale the tree or get spikes like the prosuse. Just be careful and you'll have a nice clean tree. Better still, why notbe safe and leave it as it is?