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White Spots on Palm Leaves: 4 Possible Reasons

White Spots on Palm Leaves: 4 Possible Reasons

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Palm plants are popular indoor and outdoor plants alike. They are known for their tropical appearance and evergreen leaves called fronds.

There are over 2600 species of palms in existence ranging from 3 feet tall to 200 feet tall. This means there is a palm species out there for everyone!

Why are there white spots on my palm leaves?

There can be a handful of reasons why your palm leaves might have white spots.

1. It could be a naturally occurring substance called scurf. You can find scurf on pygmy date palms (Phoenix roebelenii).
2. If you have a palm in the family Arecaceae, you might be dealing with a fungal infection known as Graphiola leaf spot.
3. You should also consider whether an insect infestation called scale has infected your palm. Scale can be deadly to your palm, and you should treat it as soon as possible.
4. The white spots could also be as simple an issue as lime deposits.

1. Scurf on Pygmy Date Palms (Phoenix roebelenii)

If you find white spots on your pygmy date palm, you may be noticing a naturally occurring substance called scurf. Scurf is not dangerous, as pygmy date palms produce it themselves.

How to tell if your palm has scurf?

Scurf is the presence of waxy white spots that develop on young leaves. The best way to tell if the spots are scurf is by noticing if they are occurring on old leaves as well as young leaves.

If the spots are appearing on older leaves, the white spots are not scurf.

It is also important to remember that if your palm is not a pygmy date palm, then the white spots cannot be scurf. Scurf is specific to pygmy date palms alone.

How to get rid of scurf?

Unfortunately, scurf cannot be removed or prevented as it is naturally occurring. Pygmy date palms produce scurf, and it is simply part of their nature.

If the look of scurf bothers you, you may want to consider a new type of palm.

2. Fungal Infection (Graphiola leaf spot)

The white spots you are noticing on your palm leaves may be a fungal infection known as Graphiola leaf spot.

Graphiola leaf spot only affects palms in the Arecaceae family. Some of these palms include Cat palms (Chamaedorea cataractarum), majesty palms (Ravanea rivularis), and Parlor palms (Chamaedorea elegans).

How to tell if your palm has Graphiola leaf spot?

You can tell if your palm has Graphiola leaf spot by noticing small black bumps on palm leaves that turn white and produce tiny off-shooting threads.

Graphiola leaf spot is not deadly to palms. Most palms can tolerate the fungal infection without side effects.

How to get rid of Graphiola leaf spot?

Even though Graphiola leaf spot is not harmful to the plant, you may dislike the way the fungus makes your palm look and want to get rid of it. To do so, you should remove the leaves that are severely infected.

This removal will help stop the spread of the infection to other leaves. However, you should be careful not to remove too many fronds because palms need them for nutrients.

To prevent future Graphiola leaf spot, you should make sure your palm has room around it for air circulation. This circulation will help to reduce humidity. You should also avoid wetting the leaves when watering.

Fungicides are not necessary. If you choose to use them, however, it should be sparingly and only during the spring. You should use a fungicide that contains copper, especially if you plan to eat any part of the palm.

3. Insect infestation (scale)

The most concerning and most likely cause of white spots on palm leaves is an insect infestation called scale. White scale are small, flat, white insects that suck nutrients from palm leaves.

By sucking the nutrients out, scale slowly kill the palm. The leaves turn brown and fall off. When too many leaves lose their nutrients, the plant dies.

How to tell if your palm has a scale infestation?

You can tell if your palm has a scale infestation by noticing if the leaves are sticky. Scale excrete a sticky substance on the leaves. You may also see ants crawling on the leaves.

Ants like to eat the sticky scale excrement.

The ants will not harm the palm, but they can help indicate a scale infestation.

How to get rid of a scale infestation?

To remove a scale infestation from your palm, you should spray insecticides on the leaves. Some of these insecticides include pyrethrin-based insecticides, horticulture oil sprays, and insecticidal soaps. You should spray these products directly onto the infested palm leaves. You should always read a product’s instructions before using it on your palm.

4. Lime deposits

The white spots on your palm leaves could be as simple an issue as lime or other mineral deposits. These white spots are typically larger than those of other causes. They can even turn the whole leaf a dusty white color. Mineral deposits on palm leaves are not dangerous, but they can be unsightly.


How to tell if your palm has a lime deposit buildup?

White mineral deposits on plant leaves occur when you water your plants with hard water. When this happens, the water evaporates and leaves behind mineral deposits. If you water your palm with hard water, that may be a sign your palm leaves have a lime deposit buildup.

How to get rid of lime deposits?

Luckily, it’s easy to get rid of lime deposits on plant leaves. One way to get rid of lime deposits is to wipe off your palm’s leaves with a damp cloth.

You should dampen the cloth with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a quart of distilled water.

You can prevent future mineral deposit buildups by watering the base of your palm. Avoid getting hard water on the leaves so minerals cannot stick there.

You could also water your palm with distilled water only. Watering with distilled water will allow you to water the leaves of the palm as well as the base.


There can be many reasons why your palm might have white spots on its leaves. Luckily, many of these reasons are specific to certain species of palms. This specificity can make it easier for you to identify the cause of your palm’s white spots.

The causes of white spots range from natural to deadly. For this reason, it is vital to research your palm’s cause of white spots as soon as possible.