Magnolia trees, renowned for their beauty and practical use as a welcoming shade tree, are often plagued by a green fungus around the trunk. Many gardeners and homeowners, who love their magnolia tree and its annual blooms, are often worried by the presence of the green fungus. It's prevalent during early spring before the tree has come into bloom, but typically is not harmful to the tree.
The green fungus that attaches itself to magnolia trees is normally one of two different types: lichen or moss. Lichen is identified by its scale-like appearance. Moss is an actual plant that attaches itself to the tree. Climates that are particularly moist and wet are more likely to see occurrences of the fungi.
Green fungus on magnolia trees is normally found on the branches and trunk of the tree. Since lichen is not a plant, it spreads easily throughout the air and to different parts of the tree. Moss, however, is found near the base of the tree where moisture is more prevalent.
Unless a magnolia tree becomes completely encased in green fungus, there is no reason to fear it. The lichen and moss may steal more sun and water from the magnolia tree, but it is not likely to take enough to raise concern or permanent damage.
Since the green fungus is often unsightly, many gardeners seek to prevent and remove it from their magnolia tree. To prevent it, do not allow the tree to become too damp, and cover the base of the tree with a plastic covering found in gardening centers during extremely wet weather. To discourage creeping moss from overtaking the tree, cover the base of the trunk with fresh, new mulch each season. To remove moss from the trunk, gently scrape downward until the entire plant is removed. Consider using chemical mold and algae removers found in gardening centers to further help eliminate the presence of green fungus.
Since the green fungus that is often found on magnolia trees is not harmful, the best advice would be to ignore it. If other types of fungus or disease start to appear and affect the appearance of the tree, consult a local gardening center or magnolia tree fact sheet to help identify it and determine how to get rid of it. Otherwise, enjoy the blooms and shade that magnolia trees offer, and do not worry about the green fungus.