In many countries around the world it is common to see the bases of palm tree trunks painted with a whitewash. There are a few reasons for this such as protecting the tree from the elements and insects and protecting people from the tree. It can also be done because people like the effect.
Protect Tree From Insects
The whitewash has a lime base that acts as an insecticide, preventing insects from climbing the tree. These insects may cause damage to the tree or its coconut fruits. The whitewash also acts as a bright background to make insects more visible to birds who can then prey on them.
Painting the base of a palm tree acts as a reflective warning sign to let drivers know that the tree is there. This can avoid drivers having collisions in the dark with the unseen palm tree.
Prevent Bark Burn
Another reason people sometimes paint the trunks of the trees is to prevent against bark burning caused by UV light. Ralph Backhaus, a professor of plant biology at Arizona State University, is quoted on the subject in a 2003 book, "Clay Thompson's Valley 101: A Slightly Skewed Guide to Living in Arizona." Backhaus states, "It's really important when the trees are young." The book also suggests burlap wraps as an alternative for preventing bark burn.
Some people just like the effect that white paint has on a palm tree trunk. This might be to match the theme or design of an area or a person's personal tastes.
- Erica Swallow: Why Do People Paint Tree Bottoms White
- Arizona Oddities: People Paint Citrus Tree Bottoms
- "Clay Thompson's Valley 101: A Slightly Skewed Guide to Living in Arizona"; Clay Thompson; 2003
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