Palm Trees: The Jerks of Trees

Palm Trees are jerks.

People may associate them with relaxing locales and tropical vacations, sitting on a beach and getting back in touch with the nature we’re slowly cooking with microwave radiation signals that carry our cat gifs and participation in angry Twitter mobs.

I repeat, though, that palm trees are jerks.

They’re hardy trees. It’s easy to forget that they live largely in difficult climates for plant life. You have to be tough to survive in those climates. That’s why these trees seem so beautiful. They are singular symbols of places where nature has traditionally been an untamed turf war, places people were trying to avoid before resort stays and complimentary WiFi.

Trimming them back to keep them healthy isn’t just a matter of sweat equity. It’s a matter of pain and blood. You may look up and see those gently swaying fronds, dreaming of sweet escapes from the everyday.

But palm trees demand blood. They will take it when you aren’t careful, or are a transplanted citizen from a different climate band learning how to manage these trees which are now on your land.

In a sense, there’s a matter of pride for human ingenuity when you live next to palm trees. This is a declaration that we’ve seen nature as something on which we can exert our will, regardless of whether we say we want to live in balance with it. The human spirit will conquer even the harshest climes.

We can build Disney®™© World®™© in a swamp. We can erect cell phone towers as the hubs of wilderness-taming neighborhoods. Again, all while proclaiming how bad these things are.

But the palm trees aren’t afraid. They lay in wait, eternal symbols of what we forget with anthropomorphized animals and romanticized wilderness. Even if it looks pretty, even if it’s a symbol of natural order, it’s waiting to harm you. It’s eager to punish your efforts. It’s eager to draw blood, even if you think that synthetically-coated and rubberized work glove is thick enough to protect you as you reach in to trim a dying branch.

Palm trees are jerks.

green palm tree leaf
Photo by Jonas Von Werne on

2 thoughts on “Palm Trees: The Jerks of Trees

  1. word of the day:



    1. having a soft, velvety surface, as certain plants.

    I shit you not.


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