Plant Diseases/Little Gem Magnolia
QUESTION: I have several of the Little Gem magnolias that have blueish colored scale looking stuff on the stalk and branches. Is this a disease or is it normal for a magnolia?
These structures are called lichens. They are not considered disease organisms and are not usually detrimental to trees. They can also be seen growing on wooden fence posts, rocks/tombstones and sometimes on power lines. We can often see these on older or declining trees- but they are the result not the cause of the decline. Usually some other stress factor involved. Lichens are also often seen on woody plants that are in the shade as well.
These unique structures are composed of a fungus and an algae living in a symbiotic relationship-one organism provides food for the other. They can be in various shapes as well. "Google" lichens to see some of the shapes and colors that they occur.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Ok Mr Steve. Is there a way to get it off my mags? People look at them to buy and they complain about this, I guess from lack of knowing what it is. Thanks again for taking time for me!
Other than physically scrubbing them off with a stiff brush, I am not aware of a removal method from a plant. There are some chemical preparations available for removing them from "non-living surfaces" such as tombstones.
As you mentioned, many people associate these "creatures" with a disease problem- erroneously.