The Q&A Archives: Queen Palm Trunks Splitting

Question: I have two 25-ft queen palms that were planted about 2 years ago in a grassy, irrigated area. The new growth looks green and healthy. The trunks are suddenly getting vertical splits of various sizes--it looks like the trunks are splitting at the seams. What's happening?

Answer: This is perplexing. Queen palm fronds do sway back and forth alot in the breeze and can break off in heavier winds. Do any of the vertical splits match up with the fronds?

There are a few cultural issues related to planting palms in turf because of the overspray from sprinklers. For example, the terminal bud could develop a heart rot disease or salts from water evaporation can build up on the trunk. Also, turf irrigation usually isn't adequate for palms as they require a deeper watering schedule. However, I don't believe these issues would cause the splits.

I recommend that you contact Maricopa County Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener Hotline at 602-470-8086, ext. 301. They are located at 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, 85040 and are open from 8-5, Mon-Fri. They will probably question you in greater detail about the appearance and care of the palms to help determine what is causing the splits. They also have access to palm experts from the University of Arizona. Good luck!

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