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Magnolia mystery death - anyone else see it lately?

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#1 Janet Macunovich

Janet Macunovich


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Posted 19 January 2012 - 11:39 PM

This from our email, posted here because we and the writer are wondering if anyone else lost magnolias mysteriously in 2011 -- trees that just didnt "wake up" last spring. Sometimes even though nothing can replace the tree, it is comforting to realize a loss wasn't "you" specifically but part of something larger, regional, environmental, etc. No way to find out about those larger patterns except to ask.

"Within that past 15 years I have planted 2 magnolias on my property. Both were planted in somewhat protected areas and received full sun about 3/4 of a day. One was a Magnolia tripetala (Umbrella Magnolia) planted in 2004. The other was a Magnolia 'Merrill' planted around 2000. One tree was planted at the very back of my 3 acres and the other at the very front. Both were doing well, with no apparent signs of stress. Last spring they never leafed out and they had both apparently died over the winter. What the Heck?? Later while talking to my sister-in-law who lives in South Carolina, she said her Magnolia also died all of a sudden last year. Have you heard any other reports of Magnolias dying." - P.C. -

Forgot to ask you, P.C., if you dug up the trees after they died. To see if the roots or trunk base could tell any tale. Usually a sudden crash says the tree suddenly ran out of room, as in classic girdling by something around the trunk or roots... See issue #52 of What's Coming Up for an example


#2 Deb Hall

Deb Hall


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Posted 29 January 2012 - 05:13 PM

Certain forms of Armillaria root rot can affect Magnolia Trees. There is not always visual signs of the decline, as it can be a problem that propagates on the inside of the tree or under the soil lines. Armillaria can affect the root systems or low areas on the trees flare. I agree with Janet that the tree should be dug to get a close look and start putting the clues together. This can also help rule out and search for other possibilities of the tree's death
To diagnose the cause of death will also assure that the replacement you choose will not be susceptible to the soil born problems living in your soil. deb hall

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