En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 18, 2013

From: Ethel , LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Shrubs
Title: Waxy deposits on Magnolia fuscata from Ethel LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 4yr old Magnolia Fascata (aka banana shrub)- I noticed that it has small oval shaped yellow waxy deposits on the branches.. I have also noticed small black ants on the branches. The unknown deposits do not seem to be affecting plant growth, but just wondering what it is so that I can treat it. Thank you for the response.

ANSWER:

Magnolia fuscata or Magnolia figo (Banana Shrub) is a low evergreen tree native to China.

Banana shrub grows best in an acidic, deep sandy loam soil.  It is basically pest free but can occasionally suffer freeze damage especially in or near zone 7. From PlantAnswers.co, here is some information on Michelia figo, which is a synonym for the same plant. According to the USDA, this plant is only recorded as growing in one county in Mississippi, but obviously you are growing it in Louisiana. From Floridata, more information on Michelia figo.

Since this plant is not native to North America, we have no information on it in our Native Plant Database. However, it sounds very much to us like you have aphids on your plant, which in turn attract the ants. The ants are harvestiing the "honeydew" (aphid poop) which they feed to their young. This is the waxy substance you see on the leaves. It can turn dark with mildew. The article on aphids we referred you to above is from the University of California Integrated Pest Management and has some information on controlling it.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

How to treat bark damage on oak tree
November 15, 2011 - I have an oak tree approx. 50 ft., live in austin, texas. the tree has dropped bark about 3-4 ft above ground, in a section of 4 inches by 8 inches, and the tree appears dark where the bark was. is ...
view the full question and answer

Swarming insects on non-native willow in Washington PA
September 25, 2011 - I have had a very large, beautiful pillow willow bush/tree growing next to our garage for about 8 years. Last year at the end of August, it began to attract white-faced hornets and yellow jackets by t...
view the full question and answer

Need help with dying clumps of Cedar Sedge
June 24, 2015 - Carex planostachys. This grass was planted 2 years ago in light shade. It grew well until this year. Now some clumps are dying. Others in same area look fine. No insects can be detected. Why are...
view the full question and answer

Burning sulfur over coals in the home for insect control.
July 18, 2008 - Is burning sulfur(over hot coals) in your home a safe way of getting rid of ants and insects?
view the full question and answer

Central branches on Texas Ash have died
June 09, 2015 - I have a Texas Ash tree that was planted about 4 years ago. It seemed fine last summer and was well watered. This spring, when it started leafing out, the central branches at the upper part of the tre...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center