Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Madrone Blight

Do we have any tree experts here?

I needs some advice. 

We have a beautiful Madrone Magnolia  [eh, I got my trees mixed up earlier. FYI, up here in Seattle it’s typically pronounced Ma-dron-nahh] in our front yard. Last year we had an abortist come out to the property because we wanted to prune back a few branches that were hanging over the walkway. She wouldn’t touch it, telling us that magnolias are prone to a disease that can easily enter through freshly cut limbs. So we left it alone. 

Nary a branch was trimmed. 

But this spring our poor madrone is definitely looking on the sorry side. Most of the leaves are brown and curled, although they haven’t started falling yet. There is a sticky sap on both stems and leaves. 

Surprisingly, we have a fair amount of new growth, although my dad reported (after consulting a few gardening folk) that new growth may be an indicator of a last-ditch effort on the part of the tree. 

So, anybody in the Seattle area have any experience with diagnosing Madrone Blight? My understanding is that there isn’t much that can be done for the tree once it is afflicted. 
 Sorry, out of focus. I was trying to show the blackish tar-like substance. 

 Flowering bodies and dead leaves


  1. Sonja,

    This is the second time I tried to publish this comment - the first one (a long one) totally evaporated when it asked me to sign up a google account. I'm Emily Benson's father, a plant pathologist at UMass. She alerted me to your magnolia issue. The photos, particularly the closeup of the stems and leaves, really look like a disease (fungal or bacterial) to me. Email me at fcaruso@umext.umass.edu and I'll tell you how to collect samples to send me so I can look at them to try to figure out the problem. We also have a tree pathologist who can help. I'm not at all familiar with magnolia problems, but I can give it a shot.


  2. Thanks Frank (and Emily, for passing our post along). I will contact you directly regarding our tree.