Why Orange Plastic Palm Trees?

Okay, I just have to say it.  What is it with brightly coloured plastic palm trees?  Up until a few years ago, I’d never seen one.  Then one day I noticed a pair of them in front of a Chinese food restaurant in Cochrane, Alberta.  I tried to be polite.  I averted my eyes from the garish spectacle and pretended I hadn’t seen them.

But, like dog balls, they were lamentably conspicuous.  And that comparison is actually quite apropos, when you take the plastic coconuts into account.  Unlike dog balls, however, one was bright yellow, and the other was bright orange.  And they lit up at night.  The trees, not the testicles.

Ooh.  Now I’m having a really disturbing mental image.  ‘Scuse me while I swill brain bleach through my ears.

Anyway, I thought these misplaced, misguided items were pretty much one of a kind.  Because really, who’d want twenty-foot-high psychedelic illuminated plastic palm trees?  In Alberta?

I got over my antipathy, because the food was (and is) excellent there.  The décor of the whole restaurant is slightly schizophrenic anyway.  The floor is constructed of dark-stained rough-hewn wooden planks that would be appropriate in a western saloon.  The windows stretch from floor to ceiling, twenty feet high, clad in sweeping, formal peach-coloured brocade draperies sashed with heavy burgundy satin tasselled ropes.  The walls are decorated with bright-red Chinese weavings, and there’s a blue-and-white porcelain fountain and a temporary tattoo dispenser in the lobby.  When you think about it, the palm trees fit right in.

But really, one of a kind, right?

Fast forward to yesterday.  I’m heading out to Manitoba again for the next couple of weeks, and I was somewhere between Medicine Hat, Alberta and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan when my horrified gaze was captured by… you guessed it.

A plastic palm tree.  Mounted on a campground sign beside the TransCanada highway, in the middle of Saskatchewan.

I would have pulled over to snap a picture, but I was doing 110 km/hr, and, frankly, I thought I might be seeing things.  It’s a long drive, after all.  But it was still there when I looked in the rearview mirror, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t hallucinate it.  And I’m pretty sure the green flecks in those brownies were zucchini.

When I searched “orange plastic palm tree” on the internet, I discovered these trees are apparently much more common than I thought.  There were a startling number of photos.  In fact, I ran across one photo of one with a multi-coloured trunk, striped in blue, brown, yellow and white.

Which leads me back to my original question:  WHY?

Yes, it can get pretty depressing living in a country where it’s winter eight months of the year.  Yes, I know what it’s like to be so desperate for the sight of something not-white that you watch the golf channel just for the sake of seeing green grass and water that isn’t frozen.

But if that’s the motivation, then why not buy a fake palm tree that looks like a palm tree?  Green.  With a brown trunk.

I guess it’s just one of the great mysteries of life.  So the only logical answer to “Why?” is “42”.

25 thoughts on “Why Orange Plastic Palm Trees?

  1. Pingback: More Yummy Spam | Diane Henders

  2. Diane, I think you’ve posed one of the great mysteries of the world. I , too, wondered what is it with these palm trees??? Hilarious post. We could clean up in the market if we could be in front of the next trend….neon coconuts? furry flamingos? I can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with.


  3. Hilarious conversation going on here, Diane! You’ve certainly got a way of creating a picture in the brain. Not sure which is more disturbing though – neuticals or brain bleach!! We do often see these trucks with “extra parts” around here in Alberta – so what does that say about the guys driving them?

    Ok, I’m going to ask the silly question: What do you mean by “42”? Am I dumb or is it an inside joke?


  4. The plastic palm tree’s been a huge favorite where I come from this year, but that’s only because Fox News showed footage, complete with gently-waving palm trees, from an unrelated protest in California when they covered this year’s protests in (snowy, palm-tree-free) Madison, WI.


    It’s been a popular decorating motif ever since.


  5. My hub unit has a subscription to several off-roading magazines, and occasionally I’ll flip through to the back of the latest issue to see if they’re still advertised . . yep, Trucksticles. And a few weeks ago we saw a pair in person (on a truck). Some guys had a pair on the back of their truck, and they were swinging (the Trucksticles were). They (the swinging ‘sticles) were so manly I almost wet my panties (with pee from laughing). I told my hub unit if I had been single, I would’ve been all over the guy’s ‘sticles (the ones on his truck).


    • Here in redneck Alberta, I’ve seen Trucksticles several times, and they never fail to make me convulse with laughter. So far, I’ve seen them in pink, black, and chrome. The pink ones paired with a stubby pink rubber hitch cover damn near killed me.


  6. I just got a giraffe hat for Christmas. I rather like it. Problem is, I still don’t look tall.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about neuticles. You know, the fake balls you surgically hang on dogs so they don’t feel embarrassed about their operation. Seems to me if you go that far you might as well orange them up.


  7. Having never seen one of these plastic trees in person, I am still inclined to ask “Why, damn it, why?” On a side note, New York City is currently being overrun by grown women (and even some men) sporting furry hats that look like various animals. Consequently, I’ve already been in the habit of asking “Why, damn it, why?” for quite some time. Answers are elusive things.


    • Furry hats that look like animals. Yikes. Those furry slippers that looked like animals were bad enough. I *really* can’t get excited about walking around looking like I’ve got my head stuck up some animal’s butt.

      Oops, need more brain bleach…


  8. Curses to that analogy. I may never look at palm trees and coconuts again the same way! Now I’m stuck with the ‘lamentably conspicuous’ disturbing mental image emblazoned across my occipital lobes. Can I borrow a gallon of that brain bleach, please? You owe me that much.

    Seriously, though. . .uproariously funny! I laughed so hard I fell out of my orange palm tree! Although someone paid a lot of money to be chic’, that designer should be sent to remedial decorators’ class.


    • I’d apologize, but you probably already know it would be insincere. 🙂

      I think I might go into the brain bleach business. I could create an entire circle of supply and demand… revolting blog posts, immediately followed by an uptick in bleach sales… hmmm.


  9. You know, for a long time, flocks of plastic flamingos were all the rage. I’ll now start watching out for phallic plastic palm trees – haven’t seen any here in NC just yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.


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