Black borders on Michelia Champaca leaves - Knowledgebase Question

Redondo Beach, CA
Question by nancyspecial
August 5, 2006
Our Michelia Champaca is about 2 years old and it's full of new buds and new growth everywhere. My question is that a lot of the green leaves have borders of black on them. What is causing that?

In addition, as others have posted, it sheds brown leaves quite a bit (winter through summer) but most of those are near the trunk of the tree. My husband thinks all of this might be from overwatering. Any suggestions please?


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Answer from NGA
August 5, 2006

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Black margins on leaves can be caused by environmental factors, cultural practices or disease problems. Sun scorch or heat stress can show up on the leaves; over-fertilization or over-watering (especially a concern if your Champaca is planted in a lawn) can affect the leaves; fungal or bacterial diseases can cause these symptoms, as well. I think the best approach is to take samples of the affected leaves to your local nursery or Master Gardener Clinic at the Cooperative Extension office for up-close inspection. Once the cause has been identified, you can take corrective action.

Because Michelia Champaca is a semi-evergreen (it never really loses all of its leaves all at once), you'll need to expect some leaf shedding nearly all year around. It is normal for broadleaf evergreens (or semi-evergreens) to lose the oldest leaves - those on the inside of the branches, closest to the trunk - in favor of producing new foliage. There's not much you can do to stop this because it is normal and natural.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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