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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - April 11, 2005

From: Atlanta, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Smarty Plants on southern magnolia
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in East Texas and there are two 50-year-old southern magnolia trees in front of my house on the highway right-of-way marked to be destroyed. The Texas Department of Transportation has allowed these trees to remain over the years, but now they say they have to go because they want to put in a curb and gutter system through Main St. leading up to their District office. We have flooding problems maybe once every 30 years and it is in the area away from these trees where there is a creek that could be utilized more efficiently instead! Can you tell me if a southern magnolia is considered a wildflower and give me an educated "guesstimate" of how much these trees are worth in general?            

ANSWER:

Most people would not consider magnolia trees wildflowers. We would, but we take a broader view of the term wildflower to include any native flowering plant. Magnolia certainly fits those criteria. The value of your trees will depend on many factors, but the replacement cost for large caliper trees can run into thousands of dollars. However, whether or not a plant is a wildflower gives it no legal protection unless it is an endangered species. Magnolias are not endangered. It seems, though, that the issues you face are largely legal and political, for which we really cannot give you much useful advice. Of course, an attorney would be able to advise you of your legal rights, and of those of the city or highway department as well. Local garden clubs, environmental groups, newspapers or sympathetic city leaders might prove helpful in your efforts to save your trees. Best of luck.

 

From the Image Gallery


Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

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