How to Prune a Paurotis Palm


A large clumping palm with lots of thin, thatched trunks, the paurotis palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii) is also called the Everglades palm since it prospers in warm, swampy conditions. In general the palm itself requires no pruning, but the buildup of old, dead fronds in the base of the plant can become unattractive. The thicket of both new and old leaves, both having vicious spines on their petiole stems, makes the pruning task challenging, unpleasant and tedious. Wear gloves, long shirtsleeves and eye protection as you infiltrate the clustered mass of fronds.

Step 1

Put on thick leather gloves and coverings for your arms, such as a long-sleeved shirt or a jacket.

Step 2

Reach into the thicket of basal fronds in the palm cluster and begin pulling out dried, dead fronds. These beige fronds should readily pull from the cluster. Toss them into a pile with all the spiny stems oriented in the same direction.

Step 3

Extend your reach into the center of the cluster with a loppers or extension pole with pruner tip, clasping onto the dead frond or frond stem to pull it out.

Step 4

Cut out any living, green fronds from the basal cluster that you find unattractive or are simply too dense in their distribution with a hand pruners. Thinning out the emerging frond tips allows for easier access in the future to pull out dead fronds or other refuse. Depending on your aesthetics, all lower green fronds may be removed to gain an unimpeded view of the taller, thatched stems of the palm. Use loppers or an extension pole for easier access into the center reaches of the palm if needed.

Step 5

Clip off any brown fronds or dried fruit clusters from the tufted fronds atop the upright stems with an extension pole with pruner tip, if desired. Browning fronds and fruit stems will naturally drop once they dry and abscess from the palm crownshaft. Never remove yellow fronds as they are supplying nutrients to the palm as they degrade.

Step 6

Cut an undesirable tall trunk stem as low to the ground as possible with a hand-held pruning saw. Rarely would a trunk need to be removed, but instances of trunk encroachment into a building soffit or rubbing against another warrant removal.

Tips and Warnings

  • Nasty spines line the frond stems and dried frond can be stiff and also poke an eye. Wear appropriate protective clothing when working in the base thicket in Acoelorrhaphe wrightii. For best growth and landscape beauty, do not plant paurotis palm in soils that are sand and lack organic matter. Moreover, alkaline soils quickly lead to frond yellowing and will slowly kill a plant over three to 10 years, especially if coupled with dry soil conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Thick leather gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Eye protection
  • Hand pruners
  • Loppers
  • Extension pole with pruning attachment
  • Pruning saw


  • Pruning Palms
  • Univ. of Florida IFAS Extension: Pruning Palms
  • "An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms"; Robert Lee Riffle and Paul Craft; 2003

Who Can Help

  • Acoelorrhaphe wrightii
Keywords: everglades palm, Acoelorrhaphe wrightii, pruning palms

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.