Do all magnolias have a tap root ?

Olivier_NorthFrance(USDA 7)March 31, 2009

Hi,

I dug up a Magnolia (wrong shrub - it was a star magnolia - in the wrong place) last summer and noticed a pretty long tap root. That made me wonder if this is a common trait to all species of Magnolia. An internet search seems to confirm this for M. grandiflora and M. macrophylla, would you extend that list to other species or all species ?

Thanks in advance for all information and experience,

Olivier.

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kman04(z6 KS)

Hi Olivier,

I've never dug a Magnolia with a tap root. They've all had roots mostly within the top 18" to 2'(46cm-61cm) of the soil. My Magnolia macrophylla is the most water sensitive North American native Magnolia I grow, so I'd find it difficult to believe it has much of a tap root either.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 4:10AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

ditto what kman04 said, and....

Many magnolia species do have a someone deeper root system than many other types of trees, but this is not the same as a taproot. Also, as emerging seedlings, some magnolias grow a taproot first (as opposed to a more fibrous root network), but this initial taproot (not sure if there is a better word for it) does not develop into a pronounced taproot as the tree grows.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 11:22AM
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Olivier_NorthFrance(USDA 7)

Many thanks for your answers.

What Brandon wrote ("[...] some magnolias grow a taproot first (as opposed to a more fibrous root network), but this initial taproot (not sure if there is a better word for it) does not develop into a pronounced taproot as the tree grows.") fits what this page says :

http://forestry.about.com/library/silvics/blsilmaggra.htm

"Rooting Habit- Southern Magnolia is a deep-rooted species, except on sites with a high water table. Seedlings quickly develop one major taproot. As trees grow the root structure changes. Trees of sapling stage and beyond have a rather extensive heart root system (i.e. several to many sunken roots grow down from the root collar of the tree trunk). Older trees may develop a fluted base with the ridges corresponding to the attachment of major lateral roots."

Although I swear I saw a tap root on the one I dug up ! ;-) Well, it was a central, vertical and thick root, clearly distinctive from the rest of the (superficial and extensive) root system and going down to... I don't know because because I didn't entirely dig it up, but it was at least 40 or 50 cm (16 to 20 inches) deep. In heavy clay.

Not an oak tap root, alright :-)

Thanks again,
Olivier.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 12:15PM
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rcallahan14_cfl_rr_com

I have an old (50 yrs.) southern magnolia (magnolia grandiflora) about 25 ft. tall. It is evenly between my home and my neighbors and within 10 feet of each of our bathrooms. The neighbor says the tree is causing her plumbing problems, although we have no plumbing problems the same distance away. I thought the roots went pretty much straight down. I don't see any roots anywhere near the ground. Is it possible that the trees roots are spreading out and causing damage to her system?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 1:53PM
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