Earlier this afternoon I took delivery of a 170cm Areca Palm, via an online purchase from a reputable horitcultural company. It was relieved to be taken out of the box and plastic wrapper and positioned in the warm sunlit lounge. Naturally it was quite expensive so I've given it a good inspection to make sure there is nothing wrong with it. Unfortunately it does seem that there is something not quite right that concerns me enough to write here for some expert advice.

Photo 1 below shows you the complete plant. Overall I would say it looks very healthy:

Complete Plant

The first things that struck me as odd was the black marks all over the stems. I've been able to gently wipe quite a lot of them off by using one of those green scrims dipped in water, plus running my finger nail up and down also proved to be effective. After quite a work out it now looks much better but many of the black spots won't come off. I've since read on this forum that there is nothing to worry about, so I guess I'm OK with this, but thought I'd mention it nevertheless. Photo 2 and 3 below shows this:

Black Marks On Stem

Black Marks On Stem

Another slight concern is regarding the shield-like leaves that wrap around the thicker, presumably older stems. Are these meant to be yellow and crispy with dark patches on them? I'm hoping the answer is yes. Photo 4 below shows this:

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OK so now my main concern. At the foot of the plant are what look like some new little stems with leaves on them. On a couple of them all of the leaves are crinkled in the middle of their length. Photo 5 shows this. This is nothing though, compared to the mutant stem that I found toward the centre of the base of the plant - covered in dry completely frazzled leaves. Photo 6! What an earth has happened here? Is this a magnesium deficiency? Clearly there is something very wrong with this little chap. What should I do?

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Should I keep the plant or send it back?

Edit > I wrote to the supplier who replied with the following:

The crinkled leaves etc is not something to worry about. We see this often on new growth and the leaves straighten out as they develop. It can also occur where the palm is getting ready to split and divide.

Likewise on larger mature Areca the stems are usually speckled with black. Again it is not a cause for concern, it is natural. I am rather more concerned that you may have stressed the plant if you scrubbed at its stems. I would advise that you leave the plant to acclimatise in its new home before re-potting it. Also, please do not feed or over-water the palm. Feed should only be applied during the warmer, growing months.

We do carefully check our plants before shipping them and would not have sent it out if we had any concerns.

We also only work with top rated growers and suppliers from across the various continents, we do not offer sub-standard plants for sale. Please therefore be assured that you palm is healthy and will flourish with the proper care.

Thanks for reading,


2 Answers 2


Based on your description of the method you used for removing the black spots I would assume you haven't caused any extensive damage. However, I wouldn't take any similar action now or in the future with regards to those little black spots. I do believe you have yourself a healthy plant with no unusual abnormalities. Take care to follow the directions given to you by the supplier in terms of caring for your beautiful new palm.

  • 1
    No I must emphasis that my attempt at removing the black spots was more like a soothing massage. Feb 15, 2019 at 18:24

As a former interior landscaper I have dealt with many areca palms. At the size you purchased this is a stable plant. The black spots are a virus/fungus/bacteria that are endemic to all areca palms but do not cause any harm. What does cause harm is alkaline fluoridated water. Where I live this is tap water and it causes

Chamaedorea palms' leaf tips turn dark brown and die

See here for details. The old shield like leaves should be brown and dry and should be removed.

The number one problem is spider mites. See here for more details

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