Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - February 04, 2009

From: Lexington, KY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Rare or Endangered Plants, Pruning, Trees
Title: Storm damage to native sweet bay magnolias in Kentucky
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you please share information on storm damage to sweet bay magnolias; if the top is broken off can the tree maintain its natural shape or will the sides begin to grow more than the top; i.e., growth hormones, etc.

ANSWER:

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) is a wetlands tree, usually only about 20 feet tall, although it can grow taller and be evergreen in its more southern habitat. Our Native Plant Database does not show it as native to Kentucky, and the USDA Plants Profile does not show it growing in Kentucky, but that is often out of date and inaccurate. 

That having been said, we're not sure we understand your question about growth hormones. Were you referring to natural hormones that the tree might have to repair its own damage, or to hormones applied to the tree in some way?  Apparently, this is one of the trees that suffered the most damage in the 2004 hurricanes in Florida. It seemed to be snapped off and have large limbs broken off much more frequently than any other native tree species.  Are you referring to recent damage? We found out from our own webpage on this tree that it should be pruned after blooming and during growing season because dormant magnolias do not easily heal. Beyond that, we could not learn anything about the possibility of the tree returning to some natural shape after storm damage. This is a lovely, valuable tree and is considered Threatened or Endangered in at least four states, so it is well worth the effort to preserve it.

From this distance, we have no way to determine whether dead limbs should be pruned off now, or some attempt be made at pruning to restore a more natural shape. We would suggest you consult a licensed arborist who can look at the tree and make a diagnosis and recommend solutions. Also, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has a Home and Garden site that should lead you to someone who might have information you need. 


Magnolia virginiana

Magnolia virginiana

Magnolia virginiana

Magnolia virginiana

 

 

More Rare or Endangered Plants Questions

Whether Venus flytrap (dionaea muscipula) is endangered
April 04, 2006 - I am a 4th grader at Whitestone Elementary School in Leander, Texas. I am in the Quest program and I am doing a project on the venus flytrap and would like to ask you some questions. 1. Is there an ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Herbertia lahue
May 03, 2005 - Herbertia lahue is now blooming in Russ Pitman Park in Bellaire, TX. Below is a story about it. I heard that the plant is a protected species, but I could not find anything to confirm that. Could y...
view the full question and answer

Looking for crowsfoot and standing spruce for Christmas wreaths in Maryland
November 15, 2011 - Hi, When I was a young child, my family would go out in the fall to pick two different plants for making Christmas wreaths. I recently found them on the farm across the street and want to make wreaths...
view the full question and answer

How to plant a gooseberry bush
November 22, 2008 - Please, if somebody can help, I need to know how to plant the gooseberry bush. Thanks,
view the full question and answer

Why is endangered Sandplain Gerardia (Agalinis acuta) helpful in the environment
October 31, 2007 - My son is doing a report on endangered plants in Maryland and was assigned the Sandplain Gerardia. On-line we have been able to find much of the information we need for his report. However, there is...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.