Guidelines for the Management of Coconut Plams

By the Aloha Arborist Association

Coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) are a significant and important palm throughout Hawaii and tropical regions around the world. Coconut palms have a life span that may exceed 100 years. As a function of their natural processes, coconut palms regularly shed coconuts and large fronds, which may expose people and property to injury and damage. To minimize this risk, coconuts and fronds must be regularly removed prior to their fall. In certain instances, coconut palms may possess structural defects that increase the risk of failure of a portion or all of the palm.

This brochure is designed to provide guidance for arborists, tree workers and property owners/managers in the proper pruning and general assessment of coconut palms. When caring for coconut palms, the safety of people and property is our greatest priority.

Pruning is recommended a minimum of two times per year within developed areas to manage the hazards of falling coconuts and fronds and to minimize risk to persons and property within the fall zone.

In order to ensure safe, healthy and attractive palms that can achieve a maximum life-span within a specific site, we recommend that the tree worker who is pruning the palm:

1.Report abnormal conditions in the crown, trunk, or base of the palm.
2.Remove fronds, fruit, seedpods and fruit stalks carefully without damaging the trunk or fronds that are to be retained.
3.Remove lower fronds where any part of the frond hangs below a horizontal plane if desired.
4.Not remove fronds where the frond shaft is less than 45 degrees from vertical.
5.Not embed the cutting tool into the trunk or fronds that will remain on the coconut palm.
6.Avoid the use of spikes where practical. In most instances, damage from repeated spike use is primarily cosmetic, but structural defects may develop over time.

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