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Gordonia lasianthus is often confused with:
Schima superba Schima superba
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Prunus caroliniana Prunus caroliniana
Cyrilla racemiflora Form in bloom
Magnolia virginiana Magnolia virginiana

Gordonia lasianthus

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
gor-DOH-nee-ah lah-see-AHN-thus
Description

Loblolly Bay is an evergreen tree that is native to SE USA and is found in the coastal plains of NC in moist but not wet areas. In summer it has spectacular white Camellia-like flowers that are fragrant and can continue through frost. Loblolly Bay reaches a height of 35 to 60 feet with a columnar or pyramidal, very open growth habit. Although evergreen, several individual leaves at a time will turn a brilliant scarlet color in the fall. 

It can be difficult to grow in cultivation and is best purchased in a pot rather than digging from the wild but can still be finicky. Use this plant in wet but well-drained areas in sun to partial sun conditions. Or just enjoy it in its native habitat.

 Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: No major problems. It can be hard to find commercially.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Variegata’
    Variegated leaves
Tags:
#contorted trunk#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#white flowers#wildlife plant#native tree#cover plant#flowering#flowering tree#highly beneficial coastal plants#NC native#deer resistant#cover
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Variegata’
    Variegated leaves
Tags:
#contorted trunk#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#white flowers#wildlife plant#native tree#cover plant#flowering#flowering tree#highly beneficial coastal plants#NC native#deer resistant#cover
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Gordonia
    Species:
    lasianthus
    Family:
    Theaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The bark was once used for tanning leather
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Distribution:
    AL , FL , GA , MS , NC , SC
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The loblolly bay provides winter and extreme weather coverage for wildlife.  White-tailed deer browse the foliage.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 75 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Open
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a hard, woody, five-valved capsule about 0.6 inches long with each valve containing four to eight flat, winged seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The 2-3 inch white fragrant flower has 5 waxy petals surrounding many golden stamens. They occur singly in the leaf axils near the ends of branches in the summer. The flowers are usually found high up on the tree, not abundant and bloom sporadically
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Oblong dark green, glossy, leathery leaves with a toothed margin and a pale green underside. They are 3-6 inches long by 1-2 inches wide. A few may turn bright red in fall.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    The bark is light-colored from cream to carmine on young trees. Matures to medium grey to a red-brown coloration with flat-topped ridges and separated by narrow furrows.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Green and brown stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Pond
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil