**Recent activities in the vicinity - utility trenching, patio construction, toxic chemical waste disposal, etc.
Not trying to be (too) funny...little things like someone rinsing a bucket of house cleaning materials, or herbicide mixing container, or parking a leaky car engine nearby can have these unexpected consequences. Bigger things - like consistently higher rainfall keeping ground saturated for unusual lengths of time; ice/snow burdens creating extensive but hairline cracks in branches; and extended periods of wind thrashing disturbing rooting connections underground - all these recede in memory when the plant "survives" the immediate event, but slowly succumbs to the death of a thousand small cuts.
Like slight but regular mower/weedeater damage on tree trunks...
It sure is showing a lot of fruit production - is that the usual case? Maybe it's allergic to those showy Iris there.
I agree with everything ViburnumValley has mentioned. Excessive flowering is a sign the plant thinks it'll be toast (reproduce before dying). Something's up so do a good walk around the tree taking photos of anything suspicious. Magnolia CSI.
It is the typical Magnolia Soulangiana, in the garden, nowhere near any driveways, in a flower bed, and has been there about 15 years. It gets full sun. We have had a lot of rainfall this month! No utility work, no trenching, no construction of any kind. No waste disposal.
1. The location. No plants around it have been moved for many years.
2. It does have a lot of flowers!
Could it just be the excessive rainfall we've had this month - almost 9"?
I will take a walk around it and take photos. I would hate for anything to hurt it.
What would I look for to see signs of recovery? Spring 2014?
Do we need to call CSI Agent Gibbs in on the case? If so, let me know so I can get "dolled up".
You may have the answer. There were no killing frosts but the temperature hit 33 degrees on the night of May 12th. This shows the last bloom on 5/5 and the new leaves appear to have been fine - no problems. So, it was just a week later when we had the very cold night. No annuals died but some did lose leaves.