The Q&A Archives: Why does my gem magnolia produce acorns?

Question: My little gem magnolia is producing acrons instead of flowers. The leaves are not charactristic of a magnolia. They form a cluster and are narrow and pointed with a green color on both sides. My local nursery person states,

Answer: Based on your description I am not certain if there is a problem, or not. As the name implies, Little Gem is a smaller growing form of magnolia. The leaves are proportionately smaller than normal. They are green on both sides, some may show a sort of brownish fuzz but usually they are not as dark as those of many of the other magnolias.

Here is a photo (Little Gem is listed number 4 so you have to scroll down on the page a bit to see it) to show you the overall effect. You may need to cut and paste the complete url into your browser to make it work correctly.

Here is another photo showing how the foliage typically clusters a bit.

The acorns you are seeing may be the immature seedpods or possibly last year's pods that have aged. The normal size range can be as small as one to three inches, or slightly larger. They start out green and turn reddish later in the fall then dry out and turn dark. The following page has excellent images of these, click on the small photo to see a larger version.

The only other possibility I can think of for something like an acorn would possibly be a scale insect infestation, the scales can be up to about a half an inch across. If you think it might be this, or if you really don't think it is a Little Gem magnolia at all, I would suggest you check with the manager of your nursery. You might also consult with your local county extension.

I'm sorry I can't be more specific for you long distance.

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