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Water sprouts (suckers) on magnolia

I have water sprouts growing at the base of my magnolia tree. What causes these? I live in the east bay area of California and the tree is approximately 15 years old and appears to be healthy.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Suckers and water sprouts are common on magnolias. Suckers are usually found growing from the base, while water sprouts grow directly from the main branches. They are encouraged by excess rain and/or fertilizer. Take out your hand pruners and cut each from the mother plant, cutting as close to it as you can. If they are small and tender, water sprouts can be removed with your thumb. as long as the tree appears to be healthy you have no cause for alarm.

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