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Magnolia grandiflora is often confused with:
Magnolia virginiana Magnolia virginiana
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Magnolia virginiana Magnolia virginiana
Pinus taeda Pinus taeda
Prunus caroliniana Prunus caroliniana

Magnolia grandiflora

Previously known as:

  • Magnolia angustifolia
  • Magnolia elliptica
  • Magnolia foetida
Phonetic Spelling
mag-NO-lee-ah gran-dih-FLOR-ah
Description

Magnolia grandiflora is a large, broadleaf evergreen tree that is noted for its attractive dark green leaves and its large, extremely fragrant flowers. It typically grows to 60-80’ tall with a pyramidal to rounded crown and a spread of 60-80' tall and 20-40' wide. This is a magnificent tree for planting as a specimen in the South in large areas, but can also be planted in small residential or commercial sites. It needs plenty of space to grow. Lower branches can be pruned out to appear more tree-like. Nothing will grow underneath the tree, and it requires a mulch to prevent erosion problems. Giant flowers are borne in the summer months and are extremely ornamental. Fruits are used as dried centerpieces intermixed with gymnosperm branches. It prefers rich soil with partial shade. It tolerates high moisture levels, but is intolerant to overly wet or swampy soils. It is native to moist wooded areas in the southeastern United States from North Carolina to Florida and Texas. It is regarded as pest and disease free.

Its dense shade and shallow roots make it difficult to grow anything underneath. 

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating. 

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:   The leaves are difficult to manage, dropping in both fall and spring.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Stiff, leathery, laurel-like leaves
  • Giant white flowers appear in the summer
  • Leaves are rusty-brown and tomentose below
Profile Video:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Kay Parris'
    semi-dwarf, 19'-30' tall
  • 'Little Gem'
    semi-dwarf but can still get 30'
  • 'Teddy Bear'
    semi-dwarf, leave resemble teddy bear ears
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#birds#shade tree#fragrant flowers#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#cut flowers#salt tolerant#cover plant#playground#seeds#wet sites#winter cover#small mammals#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#deer resistant#children's garden#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#cover#food source fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Kay Parris'
    semi-dwarf, 19'-30' tall
  • 'Little Gem'
    semi-dwarf but can still get 30'
  • 'Teddy Bear'
    semi-dwarf, leave resemble teddy bear ears
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#birds#shade tree#fragrant flowers#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#cut flowers#salt tolerant#cover plant#playground#seeds#wet sites#winter cover#small mammals#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#deer resistant#children's garden#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#cover#food source fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Magnolia
    Species:
    grandiflora
    Family:
    Magnoliaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    It was traditionally used medicinally to treat circulatory system disorders. The leaves, fruits, bark and wood yield variety of extracts with potential applications of pharmaceuticals.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Distribution:
    Maryland south west to Texas southeast to Florida.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It provides winter and severe weather cover.  Its seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    The Southern magnolia is moderately resistant to deer damage, and is highly salt tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 60 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Dense
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • 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:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Aggregate
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    The flowers give way to spherical cone-like fruiting clusters that are an aggregate of follicles (to 3-5” long) and mature in late summer to early fall, releasing individual rose-red coated seeds suspended on slender red threads at maturity. Fruits are rusty-tomentose.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    The Southern Magnolia has fragrant creamy white flowers (to 8-12” diameter) that are usually composed of six petals. The flowers bloom in late spring, with sparse continued flowering throughout the summer. Flowers are solitary, axillary, scattered on the plant, and have a perianth (6" long) of 9-15 members.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Southern Magnolia has 5-10 alternate, simple, leathery evergreen ovate to elliptic leaves (5-10” long). They are glossy dark green above and variable pale green to gray-brown beneath. It has felt-like fuzz and rusty-brown tomentose on back of its leaves. Leaves are stiffly coriaceous, acute, cuneate, and entire.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Patchy
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is brown to grey and smooth when young. As the tree ages, close plates or scales develop.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Branches are borne to ground level and are spreading.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases
    Insect Pests
    Salt
    Urban Conditions
    Wet Soil