If a queen palm is brown in the spring, summer or fall, it is most likely dead since this is the main growing season. If it looks dead in the winter, leave the palm alone and do not prune it. You will know it is alive if new growth appears in the spring.
Queen palm trees, botanical nameSyagrus romanzoffiana, are a tropical plant native to South America. In the United States, the tree grows mostly in tropical regions, but can also survive in dessert areas if additional water is provided. Most deaths of queen palm trees are due to frost damage that occurs in the winter. There are a number of ways to determine if a queen palm is really dead, or whether it will regrow in the spring.
Look at the fronds on the queen palm for any signs of green. If you see any green at all, even small areas, the tree is still alive. If you see no green whatsoever on any of the fronds, the tree is either dead or will be soon.
Look at the fronds to see if they are completely black which indicates that the tree is suffering from a manganese deficiency. If only some of of the leaves are black, the tree is still alive and fertilizer will revive it. If all of the leaves are black then the queen palm is dead.
Place a step ladder as close to the Queen palm as possible so that you can look at the top of the tree, called the "crown," where the new fronds grow. Look at the very center above the trunk to locate the central frond. Look at the frond to see if any part of it is still green. Any green on the central frond indicates the Queen palm is still alive, even if the rest of the tree looks dead.
Grasp the fronds directly next to the uppermost central frond and pull very gently outward. If the fronds pull out with little effort, the tree is dead. If you feel some resistance, the tree is still alive and may revive in the spring.
Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.