I live in northern New York State (just north of Albany) and my
magnolia (a M. soulangeana or M. stellata, I think; it has pink and
white flowers in the spring) is dropping strange looking pods. They
look like pickles or maybe the bumpy tip of an asparagus. They're
about 2-3" long and 1/2" in diameter. I don't remember seeing any
last year (my first year in this house). What are they?
Having flowered, the magnolia then tries to form seeds. These are the
"fruit" that contain the seeds.
Seed formation can stress a plant. Wood, leaves, and flowers are mostly
carbohydrates, which are easily produced from water and carbon dioxide
by the action of sunlight on leaves. Seeds, however, contain oils and
proteins, which require a much more complicated plant chemistry to
produce. The effort to produce seeds very often causes a plant to stop
flowering. That is why we "deadhead" roses and other flowering plants.
I recommend that the immature pods be picked off the bush as soon as
flowering is over. Just give them a little twist. This will promote
more vigorous growth, leading to even more flowers next year.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
My magnolia get these as well. For the seed pods to be this big, I'll bet
your Magnolia is a large mature tree.
If you have turf under the tree, try not to leave the pods on the ground as
they rot quickly and kill the grass around the pod for an inch or so.
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