Q: We have this Mexican Fan Palm (I think) that faces Southwest where all our wind and rain come from. We have been told to clean off the damage because it's a home for insects and some have told us no as it protects the tree. It is a great tree protecting us from golf balls and providing morning shade to our patio. What should we do?
A: The so-called damage is really just the base of old leaves; what is left on the outside of the tree after years of fronds sloughing off as it grows. To some extent the leftover parts do protect the tree and they are a potential home for insects and birds. I like insects and birds so it’s not a problem for me. Cleaning up the tree is optional. Some people think these leaf bases add to the character of the trees and others think they look messy so it’s really your call. The tree will eventually self-clean by dropping them as it ages.
Peter L. Warren is the urban horticulture agent for the Pima County Cooperative Extension and the University of Arizona. Questions may be emailed to email@example.com