Magnolia leaves are curled

stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))June 22, 2013

My 10-year old magnolia bush/tree(think the name was "saucer") bloomed as usual this year, but most of the leaves are now curled(see photos). I've checked the inside of the curled leaves for bugs and haven't seen any. Just to make sure I sprayed it yesterday with Captain Jack's Deadbug (spinosad). Any other suggestions/diagnoses? The tree has been very healty every year. Thanks in advance.

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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Looks like herbicide damage.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 2:37PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

It wasn't sprayed with anything(not to my knowledge, anyway) until yesterday. The curling's been there for weeks. Do magnolias get leaf curl disease?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 3:28PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If nothing was applied on your site that you are aware of it could still have blown in from nearby, particularly if there are any agricultural operations in the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 5:21PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

that weed free lawn ... or next door was not sprayed???

saucer is a common name for mag's ... google : saucer magnolia... to get its latin name ...

he is on the cape... salt water damage??? ... and recent storms???

ken

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 5:52PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

Yes, I'm on the Cape but we have storms here all the time. Nothing unusual this year. No unusual ag work in the neighborhood either, other than replanting of grass near the tree this spring. I didn't use anything other than starter fert on the grass, so that shouldn't have caused it. It's mystifying.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 7:00PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you used sod then maybe it had been treated with a broadleaf herbicide before being cut and brought to your site.

If purchased compost was used as part of the lawn renovation maybe it contained residual herbicide.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Myth of Clean Compost

This post was edited by bboy on Sun, Jun 23, 13 at 0:56

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:49AM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

Hmm. Interesting article. I reseeded to within about 5 feet of the magnolia. Instead of topsoil, I used compost from a local, reputable place. Have done that before with good results. I'll check with them to see if the compost is treated, but even if it is, none of it came close enough to the magnolia to affect it.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:22AM
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RugbyHukr(23)

If you recently installed new lawn, you probably have watered abundantly to help it establish. The excessive amounts of water required to establish the lawn may have stressed the tree.

Too much water can inhibit the natural processes of the tree.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 10:45AM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

That could be a factor, although I angled my sprinklers to hit just the seeded area, not the tree. But some spillover could have affected it. By that logic, since I've stopped regularly watering the area, shouldn't the leaves uncurl themselves?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Dzitmoidonc(6)

Well, I'm a farm boy who has no training in botany, but I would be willing to bet a load of hay that the tree exhibits chemical damage. Drowning makes leaves black, drought makes them brown, and chemicals make them twist and curl like an end plague of aphids. Assuming the undersides aren't coated with scale or other insects, I would suspect spray or something put down in the root zone.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:13PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

Well, prior to spreading the compost and reseeding the new lawn area, I used Roundup to kill the original layer of grass/weeds. But the sprayline didn't get closer than 8 feet to the magnolia; no where near the drip line.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:23PM
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gardengal48

The drip line is no magical cut-off point - the root system of established trees extend well beyond the limits of their canopies. Sometime as much as 2-3 times the canopy spread. Since the majority of their fine feeder roots are located in this outer perimeter, herbicidal products applied in this area could certainly have an affect. Magnolias are notorious for having very shallow roots as well......I think you may have your answer :-)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 1:33PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

Okay, let's say the Roundup is the culprit. Can the magnolia recover?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 1:50PM
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kenptn(z6b TN)

Are you sure there was no herbicide spraying in your area? County or utility ROW? It sure looks like 2,4,D damage, not Roundup. I see damage like that every spring here when the no till farmers spray their fields with 2,4-D, but never later when they use Roundup. The Magnoliaceae are extremely susceptible to herbicides.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 3:01PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

I'm certain there is no herbicide spraying around here. We live in a quiet, semi-rural neighborhood and would have been informed(hopefully) of anything like that.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 3:08PM
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RugbyHukr(23)

"Drowning makes leaves black, drought makes them brown, and chemicals make them twist and curl like an end plague of aphids."

Is way too general of a statement. Trees cannot uptake water if there is none in the soil. They also cannot uptake water if the soil is too saturated. One first reaction a tree will have when it can no longer take in water is to curl its leaves to reduce the water loss through transpiration.

I am not saying that is the problem, but curled leaves could mean any of a variety of issues.

Here is a link that might be useful: Round-up not active in soil, won't harm roots

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 4:36PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

Well, that article seems to eliminate Roundup as the cause. Still a mystery.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Dzitmoidonc(6)

"Drowning makes leaves black, drought makes them brown, and chemicals make them twist and curl like an end plague of aphids."

Yes, a general statement, but have you ever seen a plant that has root problems from too much or too little water get curled green leaves? One example?

Roundup is absorbed by leaves, not roots. Any leaf that gets hit and does not die still gets brown spots where the spray landed, not twists in the leaves on the whole tree.

The damage in the picture is classic herbicide damage. Maybe the twp. was spraying around culverts, telephone pole or something. I live amidst corn and soybean fields. You can detect 2,4-D with a whiff of air 2 days later, if you recognize the smell. If you don't know, it is just a funky smell. And boy does this look like 2,4-D.

One other cause of similar leaf curl (but not so evenly similar) is Magnolia scale. These are small bumps on the tree that 'bleed' red when you move them. I wonder if the OP has checked the twigs?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 5:07PM
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RugbyHukr(23)

Yes, I have seen leaf curl from a tree trying to protect itself from excessive water loss. It is a natural response that will happen before leaf discoloration from lack of chlorophyll.

Here is a link that might be useful: Article on water stress with symptom of leaf curl

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 7:06PM
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RugbyHukr(23)

Here is another on the topic.

Trees with thin leaves tend to wilt under water stress, and those with thick leaves curl.

Maybe you are too far north to have seen as much as I see in California. Have you seen Rhododendron roll like that? They are a common thick leaf plant that gets curled when water stressed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Article of flooded trees with symptom leaf curl

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 7:10PM
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Dzitmoidonc(6)

Hi again, Rugbyhukr. Your first link talks about curling with wilt: " In addition to wilting, leaves may curl or warp, become crinkly, turn brown along the edges (scorch), turn yellow, turn brown, and/or fall from the tree."

In addition to wilting it says. No way are the leaves even a little bit wilted on the Magnolia pictured by the OP.

The second link that talks about water stress says: "...... yellowing or browning of leaves, leaf curling and pointing downward, leaf wilting......"

Again, a whole list of symptoms, including curling and pointing downward, probably caused by wilting.

The point is, water stress will cause curling on thicker leaves like a Rhododendron. I see it all the time in the winter. I have about a dozen Rhodies here, and every winter I think they won't recover after a cold spell. (Cold dries the leaves.) The OP says the Magnolia could be a "saucer" Magnolias. Those do not have the thicker leaves like grandiflora and even virginiana. I have a saucer-type here, and water stress causes wilt, not curl.

I may be from the frozen north, but I also have about 200 species of trees and shrubs here that I planted. I watch them through drought and late frosts, through floods and hurricanes. I saw Chionanthus and Larix drown one day when water covered the roots for a few hours. I also farmed for many years, worked on farms in ME, FL, AZ and PA before that. I sprayed and watched that too, and I remain convinced that the symptoms are herbicide damage. I certainly can't offer a for-sure name for the chemical because so many new ones come out all the time. I gave up my applicator's license about 10yrs. ago, but the symptoms are not new, just classic.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 11:07PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Despite the dogma at least a few instances have been documented where applications of glyphosate around trees were followed by damage or death. No herbicide was applied to the stems or foliage.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 12:23AM
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RugbyHukr(23)

Noted.

My point was (or I intended to be) was that you cannot jump to the assumption of herbicide damage. Trees have similar responses to a variety of ills.

Is the tree affected on only one side? That would lend credence to herbicide drift. If it is the entire tree, the herbicide nearby would be a coincidence.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 12:22AM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

No, Rugby, the damage is on all sides of the magnolia. Not all of the leaves are affected but I'd estimate about 80% ARE. I've attached another photo to show the mixture of mostly-bad leaves with a few good ones.
Another thought: when the compost was delivered for the grass seeing near the magnolia, the truck backed over a section of lawn that would include part of the magnolia roots. There are still impressions in the grass. Could that possibly have caused this?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:06AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

No, compaction is not going to cause this response.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 2:14PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

Well, I've sprayed the entire tree for disease(using Daconil) and bugs (Captain Jack's) since noticing the leaf curl. It hasn't disappeared, nor has it worsened.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 2:27PM
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