En Español

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

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 Pests Questions

Mosquito repelling plants from Euless TX
July 24, 2013 - Are there any shade loving plants that repel mosquitoes for North Central Texas? I checked your site and saw nothing on this topic.
view the full question and answer

Topical treatment for poison ivy rash
November 12, 2008 - I would like to know a topical treatment for the poison ivy rash
view the full question and answer

Black coloration on Star Magnolia is probably sooty mold.
November 21, 2008 - I have a star magnolia where 90% of the bark has turned black. It almost looks burned. The tree has decent buds set for next spring. What is causing the bark to turn black?
view the full question and answer

Pill bugs in potted plants in Atlanta GA
June 14, 2013 - Hello, I repotted four aloe vera plants two days ago with a cacti soil and watered them thoroughly in terra cotta pots according to directions on the bag. Well the next morning the pots had pill bug...
view the full question and answer

Webs on trees and porch
August 21, 2008 - i have webs all over my semi covered porch in my back yard. i have noticed these small webs are also on the trees in my backyard. what are they and are they dangerous to the trees or my family who sit...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center