Magnolia in trouble

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by HughWirch, May 6, 2007.

  1. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    We have an Apollo Magnolia that is about 12 years old, and has thrived until this spring. The flower buds have turned brown, with a few exceptions, and the tree appears about half dead, although some branches are showing good leaf. The tree lost a large branch from wind this winter. The main stem and some branches seem to be oozing black sap.

    I've attached pictures of a) typical flower browning and dying and b) the stem oozing sap.

    Any ideas what causes this? I can't see any signs of bugs and no growths or canker on the branches, just a general deterioration in the flowering and leaves.
     

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  2. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Is the damaged portion near the base of the tree trunk? In the past had a similar problem with magnolias planted in full sun. Not really sure what caused it , bark split from winter sun , sap starting to come up then hard frosts at night, high rainfall combined with incompatible rootstalk, or whatever. Seems they do better if the trunks are shaded here. Similar problem with a few other young trees , various species. Of the magnolias which failed, the grafted top portion died , then the root stock sent up growth which did not seem to have similar problems. Guess they were about 7-9 year old trees.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2007
  3. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    Other than the seepage of some kind of black sap from some splits in the trunk, the damage seems to be to the branches, ie. the browning of the blossoms and leaves. I expect the seepage may be related, as I don't recall seeing that before. Whatever is causing the dark sap may also be causing the general malaise?

    Hugh.
     
  4. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Not sure , but if the main trunk is damaged badly it will likely be vulnerable to wind damage, blowing over if surviving , in the future. Is the bark split mainly on the sides exposed to the sun? The blossoms, leaves, and branches are not getting the sap required due to the split bark. Is the bark split at the base of the trunk? Like 6'' to 2' from the ground?
     
  5. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    The sap and splits aren't really near the ground, I would say a foot or more and higher. I've added two more pictures, one of a seepage at a branch intersection, and a picture of the tree overall. The base of the tree seems reasonably sound, though I'd have to check it again in daylight to be sure. There is a large branch missing, visible as a black area part way up the large right hand branch, due to wind damage. I sprayed it with black tree wound paint when it happened several months ago.

    Hugh.
     

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  6. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Don't know an easy remedy when the trunk bark is split like that, maybe an arborist could advise. Hopefully, its not serious enough to kill the tree or weaken it too much. Bridge grafting comes to mind . Had a M. 'Butterflies' that had a similar problem, seemed to heal itself, removed the dead wood, then it blew over 3 years later, breaking at the healed trunk. The year it would have first bloomed. Maybe if it had been staked better it might have survived. Would be nice to be certain of the cause. The trunk seems to be supporting a lot of top growth, wonder if it may be related to the problem. Seems like Victoria gets a fair amount of wind at times. Some participants on here may be able to advise.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2007
  7. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Was looking at what appears to be bark split on the tree, maybe cherry, left side of second pic? Magnolia doesn't seem as badly split.
     
  8. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    Found I had a better picture of trunk, and it does show splits near the bottom. The other tree in the previous picture is a pear tree, which appears to be doing ok as far as top growth is concerned.

    Could too much water be something that could cause these symptoms? The drainage around the house has changed over the past several years, with more water being directed to that area, might that cause this tree grief?

    Hugh.
     

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  9. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    ps. re previous question re other (Pear) tree in picture with what appears to be splitting, it's actually just a rough area where the bark had spread in previous years, no problems with that tree.

    Hugh.
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Start by looking up lilac blight (Pseudomonas).
     
  11. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    I'll check to see if the symptoms look similar (ie. Leaf spots are small, dark brown, water soaked, and often surrounded by a yellow halo. Spots enlarge and may be limited by leaf veins becoming angular in shape.)

    If this is the issue, I gather it's too late to use the copper spray. Is there anything that I can do, ie. clean out the black sap areas and apply any local remedies to those areas? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    thanks,
    Hugh.
     
  12. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    I examined the tree again and couldn't identify the symptoms that would identify with the lilac blight (ie. Leaf spots are small, dark brown, water soaked, and often surrounded by a yellow halo. Spots enlarge and may be limited by leaf veins becoming angular in shape.) All I can see at this point is dead flower heads (some are ok but most are completely browned and dead), and some new green leaves, not browned over but sort of listless. The trunk is not physically damaged, it seems sturdy enough, and the cracks are more like leaks with the sap running down.

    Hugh.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    "New shoots wilt, become necrotic, and die back in spring."

    "In British Columbia, apply copper based bactericides at least once in fall and twice in spring near budbreak."

    http://plant-disease.ippc.orst.edu/disease.cfm?RecordID=706

    I once heard lime sulphur (I think) dormant spray had been used in the past at the Seattle arboretum to protect deciduous magnolias (from this and/or another condition). This was being discussed because a couple metres or more of the top of perhaps the biggest Campbell magnolia there had died back suddenly. Another large example blighted off and died completely the same winter or otherwise at about the same time. I think this was attributed to lilac blight in both instances, but I do not have written remarks from staff in front of me.

    Have also noticed some stock in previous years arriving from suppliers with startling yellow dormant buds, presumably due to lime sulphur dormant spray.

    Chronic dieback of Yulan magnolia going back years at Rhody Ridge park, Bothell WA was arrested dramatically after I was consulted and a dormant spray program was undertaken.
     
  14. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    There are at least two issues with this Magnolia
    and perhaps a third if we look at the link that
    Ron submitted.

    We can see a secondary rotting organism on
    the fallen leaves in the second photo that is
    known to affect some Magnolias in blossom.
    Treat for it like we would a Camellia blossom
    blight. Cultural control is the best long term
    method to use for that fungus by raking or
    gathering up and discarding all fallen leaves,
    debris and fallen tepals. A Copper or a Calcium
    based fungicide spray in the Fall will help but
    in severe cases a repeat spray may be
    warranted in the Spring about a month to six
    weeks prior to this plant flowering. Try to get
    a window of 48 hours of no rain to allow the
    spray to stick to the wood and dry for the Spring
    application to have any real efficacy.

    The browned flower can do that with a sudden
    temperature change of going from warm to
    cold rather suddenly when the flower is starting
    to open and we can see it again in the interior
    of the tepals as the tepals have expanded. The
    browning of the tips of the sullen leaves does
    indicate a bacterial blight however.

    The Pear does have an issue and it is known as
    Bacterial canker. This same form of Pseudomonas
    and there are many that can cause wide ranges of
    symptoms such as a non gummosis forming wet
    lesion, a dry lesion, a petal and leaf blossom blight,
    a twig and shoot blight and of course the more
    commonly seen form around here an internal canker
    causing gummosis. We can clearly see what a
    gummosis on a Magnolia looks like in the trunk
    of this tree in the last photo. It is this pathogen
    more than cold or a quick thaw along with direct
    sun that can cause the bark to split in many
    flowering and fruiting trees. We usually see it
    in a Magnolia in the shaded part of the trunk as
    evidenced by another Magnolia in this same
    forum. The internal bacterium came about
    from propagation of this tree but the blossom
    blight did not. For an internal canker a fungicide
    spray can also be used in the Fall and the Spring
    prior to bloom. Best and most effective treatment
    is to spray the trunk heavily with a fungicide or
    use a systemic Copper or perhaps a Calcium based
    solution if need be, wait until the topical spray
    has dried and paint over the trunk with a white
    latex paint to help prevent the bark on the trunk
    from splitting any further. Once that trunk has
    a major split it only gets worse for this tree and
    can lead to the death of the tree later with some
    help from a secondary invading organism such
    as a borer or a fungus of which you already have
    one visible near this tree as evidenced by the
    Botrytis on the fallen leaves.

    Jim
     
  15. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    I appreciate all the responses, it has been very helpful in getting an understanding of what's happening.

    I will add the magnolia to my off-season treatment routine, which I have already been doing for the Pear tree. I will also do the suggested treatment for the trunk immediately, including painting. One question I have is whether there is any treatment that can be done at this time of year for the branches; since the leaves are withering anyway, would it be helpful or harmful to apply treatment to the whole tree at this point?

    Hugh.
     
  16. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    A lot will depend on your current daytime and
    nighttime temperatures. In cold or hot weather
    it is not advised to use a lime sulfur Volck type
    spray as the spray can injure wood. Can cause
    a sunburning effect to the wood in freezing and
    very warm temperatures, temps in the 90's and
    above.

    If the Magnolia was mine and I could not trim
    off dead or deadened wood caused from a blast
    disease then I'd give this tree an allover fungicide
    spray right now but here I'd have to do it in the
    late evening or very early morning as the spray
    can injure dry leaves if the spray dries too fast
    due to direct hot sun. An evening spray works
    best here with plants that have leaves that do not
    have a thick cuticle and deciduous Magnolias
    are one of them. Around here we can spray
    most any but not all evergreen forms of
    Magnolias if need be anytime during the
    day until the weather gets into the 90's.

    Some people will balk at the painting of the
    trunk for the symptom of the bacterial disease
    your tree is showing but painting the trunk
    from right above the uppermost wet lesion
    all the way down to ground level will help
    serve as a preventative for you in more ways
    than one. A weakened wood can crack further
    rather easily when exposed to too much hot
    and direct sun or through a thawing out in
    cold weather and exposed to direct sun. The
    painting also suppresses the spread of the
    crack in the wood. In shaded areas of the
    trunk the split makes it more convenient for
    an invader to come on in and infect your
    already weakened tree. Covering the fissure
    up closes the door on them.

    I think the controls mentioned by OSU in the
    link that Ron provided will work just fine for
    the problems you have. The blight you see is
    more of a blossom blight right now, which can
    get worse for you next year and it may not if
    left untreated but why chance it? A preventative
    spray has its purpose to help us help the tree
    rather than leaving it alone and subject it to
    a potentially worse blighting later when we
    may lose some wood. If we lose wood, we
    lose the propensity for this tree to bloom for
    a year or more, sometimes as long as five to
    seven years depending on the Magnolia for it
    to produce enough rejuvenate growth to set
    flower buds again. You should not have that
    long to wait for your Apollo unless you start
    losing some wood on this tree.

    Jim
     
  17. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Agree with mr. shep on the importance of protecting the trunk now. From the pics it appears the trunk could form a continuous split from the base up to the main branching if further stressed. 3 splits lined up already it appears. Would consider staking the tree at least 3 points, possibly from the branches, to avoid stress on the trunk till healed. Of course good air circulation , but not high winds, also helps the tree. Maybe mr. shep or RonB would have some thoughts on this.
     
  18. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    Well, the magnolia has been sprayed with fungicide and the trunk painted white. I included some main branch areas that had damage or appeared to be leaking sap. Now I guess we wait and see.

    My thanks to all who responded.

    Hugh.
     

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  19. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Informative . Looks better already, hope it does well for you.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2007
  20. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Keep us updated on how this Magnolia is
    doing. Some of the deadened branches
    may have to be cut back from the tips to
    live wood otherwise you may risk the
    whole limb dying out on you. The latter
    is not pleasant to have to endure but if we
    catch it in time we can save some of the
    limb. If the whole limb dies out then
    prune it off all the way back to the base
    of the tree. A blossom blight generally
    does not kill a whole limb but it can later
    lead to a shoot blight which can kill the
    entire branch and the entire tree if left
    untreated.. [ I saw signs of a late blossom
    and twig blight hit my Seckel and Red
    Sensation Pears in mid April over a
    month after they had bloomed. After
    I saw the blighting I pruned off all the
    areas that had been hit, gave the trees
    a Copper based fungicide spray mixed
    in water, deep watered both trees twice,
    a week apart and now the trees look fine
    like they were not adversely affected at
    all. ]

    Jim
     
  21. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    It's been several weeks, sprayed with copper fungicide again about a week ago and watered it, and there's no sign of life, ie. no buds or leaves or anything sprouting. Is that normal if the tree is to recover? Am wondering because we are putting the house up for sale, and if it's definitely dead I would prefer to replace it and move on rather than have a bare tree sitting there.

    I have cut back some of the obviously dead branches to where the bark appears to have some green, but can't tell if it's healthy green or just dying back slowly. Is there a way to tell if this tree is likely to recover? Could it stay bare for a long time and still green out later?

    thanks,
    Hugh.
     
  22. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Looked pretty far gone at the start of this discussion. If it were mine I would have removed it at that point.
     
  23. HughWirch

    HughWirch Member

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    Gone....
     

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