Gall or Seed Pod??? Deformed Magnolia Seed Pod

Subject: Iowa Gall found under Honey Locust
Location: Des Moines IA
July 31, 2014 5:10 pm
This morning I found this growth on the ground below a honey locust tree. It was under a suburban tree in the Grandview park area of Des Moines with no other trees very close.
I don’t take very good pictures, but the growths appear to underlie some sort of scaled leaves, as each is covered by a tissue with a midline, and there are scale-type structures further down the stem. The stem is woody and it appears some rodent has been gnawing at the base.
It weighs about an ounce and is roughly 6″ long, with 6-10 nodules the size of marbles.
Beyond my curiosity, I’d like to know if this is something we should be concerned about controlling in the trees around where I found it.
Thank you for your time. I can try for better pictures if you need or want them.
Signature: Ash

Seed Pod, we believe
Deformed Magnolia Seed Pod

Dear Ash,
We do not believe this is a Gall.  In our opinion, it is a Seed Pod.  You observation that it was gnawed by a rodent is further evidence that perhaps a squirrel transported it from another tree.  If you open it, we believe you will find seeds beneath what you have called the “nodules the size of marbles.”

I don’t want to disagree, but it is not at all symmetrical, and I’ve been familiar with the native brush and weeds for 50+ years. It might be viral. I’ve been an outdoors-woman and hunter all my life. I’m not saying I’ve seen everything, and I am still surprised but mostly it’s been insects I overlooked or invasive species.
I have asked the state entomologist and agronomist and will let you know what they say. If it were a normal plant structure, I would anticipate more symmetry. Also squirrels are almost as opportunistic as rats.
I’ll pass on their feedback.
Thanks for your time!

Please let us know what you learn.

Update:  Deformed Magnolia Seed Pod
Please see this deformed Magnolia Seed Pod on the Missouri Botanical Garden website where it states:  “This magnolia seed pod is deformed due to poor pollination

Very cool! We do have several magnolia species in the area. The scaled structure is very close. I’ll read more, but that looks like a win.

3 thoughts on “Gall or Seed Pod??? Deformed Magnolia Seed Pod”

  1. I just found pods very similar on my Magnolia tree that I planted 10 years ago. I had never seen anything like it until just this spring. Actually it is on 4 of my magnolias and appears to be killing them! Any idea what I can do to stop it? I have taken pictures of the pods but not sure how to add them to this post.

  2. I am from NJ and it’s July 29th 2015. I just pulled a handful of deformed pos off my 6′ Magnolia just like the one in the photos above. Should I be concerned, the plant looks healthy enough.

    R. Pichette

  3. I have the same issue on my magnolia. Despite the fact it might be an insect the only way to know is to open it. Having opened it you would have found red, round seeds of the magnolia tree that it belongs to. Squirrels often take them and open them up in my blue tip spruce so I find the same red seeds relocated in a different area.

    If you seriously have spent 50+ years exploring outdoors you would have found that discovery is second to curiosity and the best way to answer your own question would be to dissect what you have found and attempt to give more information.


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