Help - bark splitting Little Gem Magnolia + Redbud

Diana395(8b- Gulfport, Mississippi)August 10, 2014

Hoping for some input from the tree gurus here about what could be going on with my Little Gem and my Forest Pansy Redbud because I'd hate to lose either one.

The magnolia, approximately 6 1/2 ft tall, has been planted for just over a year. It's always been a bit sparse but healthy looking overall. About 8 weeks ago, I randomly noticed two areas where the bark appears to be splitting open -- one near the top 1/4 of the central leader and a second, on a thinner side branch. The tree is planted as a focal point in the middle of an eastern facing bed in my backyard and gets full sun (fairly intense 8b/9a sun) from 9 am to 3:00 or so. It's hot and humid here in coastal Mississippi and these "splits" are on the sun facing side. I was freaked out when I first noticed them but the tree is putting out new growth and has flowered a little. Earlier in the summer, I lost several clumps of new leaves -- they'd suddenly brown out and droop and die -- but that's been happening less now. And the leaf issue was not on the affected limbs.I am very conservative w/fertilizer and only applied Plant Tone in the spring followed by two applications of half strength 10-10-10 liquid this year so I wouldn't think the leaf issue was fertilizer but I could certainly be wrong.

The Forest Pansy redbud was planted in June. It gets part sun and is somewhat sheltered by my neighbor's huge live oak and an old pecan tree. It's a lovely tree but a little top heavy at 8.5 feet tall and is currently staked. It looks fine but hasn't had any significant growth (above ground, that is... hopefully the roots are doing their thing). This morning though, I just happened to notice one of the redbud branches has the same kind of "splitting" action going on -- looks identical to the ones on the magnolia -- but that branch is not getting blasted by direct sun.

I am thoroughly mystified (as is my yard man) and more than a little worried. There are no sprinklers in my yard and these lesions are high up -- so they're not weed trimmer damage.

I've yet to master how to post more than one photo at a time so will add some in subsequent posts. This first picture is the redbud limb. Bad angle but the branch is significantly over my head and hard to photograph.

Any ideas? Is this serious?? Thanks in advance...

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Diana395(8b- Gulfport, Mississippi)

Pic 1 of Little Gem magnolia. And I forgot to mention but all of these limbs are on the small side -- 1" - 1 1/2" in diameter max since both are young trees.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:49AM
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Diana395(8b- Gulfport, Mississippi)

Little Gem magnolia pic 2 (near top of central leader)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:51AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

none of the wounds are in focus ...

last pic looks mechanical.. as in it was rubbed on something..

how did you get these large transplants home??

whats the brown stuff on the second pic.. need focus


    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 7:25AM
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Diana395(8b- Gulfport, Mississippi)

Sorry about the out-of-focus photos ;-( I tried to retake them but fear that only this one, of the magnolia, has come out clear enough. Luckily (if one can call it that) the lesions on both the redbud and magnolia look exactly the same. The damaged section in this photo is about two inches long and there's a smaller one on a skinny twig/limb next to it that you can also sort of see. Both about 5 feet up on my 6+ foot Little Gem.

Ken, the Little Gem was purchased at Home Depot last year and the Forest Pansy came from an independent nursery and both were lugged home in my Subaru Forester. Neither have had any "mechanical" damage that I can think of. When I first noticed the problem, the swollen cracked part felt a little soft and moist but it's since hardened off. And as I mentioned in the original post, there is new growth above the lesions on both trees.

Fingers crossed someone here can enlighten me on what's happening... Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:03PM
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Looks like mechanical damage to me as well, although it can be hard to judge without being there. There's only two things you can do, prune off the damaged branch or wait it out and hope that it heals over.

This post was edited by mosquitogang201 on Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 22:26

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:25PM
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This looks like mechanical damage ie rubbing during transport. You may not have done the damage moving these home in your Subaru. This may have happened between the grower and the seller.

This doesn't look like major damage at any rate. The tree seems to be handling and repairing it on it's own. Unless you need to have it perfect I'd leave it be.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:18AM
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Assuming it is some kind of mechanical damage, just leave it be. Magnolias handle the sealing off of an injury fairly well. It will not happen overnight, but in a few years, it will callus over. The process is known as compartmentalization. Animals (including us), 'heal'; plants do NOT heal. They seal off the dead portion and grow over it. Do not apply anything to the wound or even cover it.

Magnolias are a favorite in the annual buck rub due to their soft bark, so I have had this type of damage previously (except more extensively). In fact, when it first happened, I assumed it was something my neighbor did unintentionally. The wound is now completely calloused over with healthy tissue.

This post was edited by njoasis on Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 12:59

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

as your plant gets established.. and growing to specs... you can remove these things thru selective pruning ...

these injuries occur ... w/o showing ... after some prolonged rubbing incident ... and there is some damage to the tissue under the bark ... that is were the cambian layer of the plant is.. the vascular system of the tree ...

and when its damaged .. that bark above.. dies.. and the wound shows ...

if you want some pruning advice ... give us some pix of the whole plant ....

try to picture this.. some guy.. tooling down the road in his yugo.. with a 12 foot tree sticking out the back ... the trunk rest on the edge of the trunk ... etc ...


    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:08PM
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