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Magnolia macrophylla

Previously known as:

  • Metamagnolia macrophylla
Phonetic Spelling
mag-NO-lee-ah mak-roh-FYE-lah
Description

Native, but difficult to use in the landscape due to large leaves. Grows best in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet). Intolerant of most urban pollutants. Best sited in locations protected from strong winds which may shred the large leaves. May take 12 or more years before the first blooms appear. Not a common landscaping plant due to the large leaves.

Magnolia macrophylla, commonly called bigleaf magnolia, is noted for its huge oblong-obovate leaves (to 30 inches long) which are the largest simple leaves, that resembles the shape of a paint brush, of any tree indigenous to North America. Leaves are green above and silvery-gray below. This unusual tree is rarely found in the wild, being limited mainly to a few rich wooded areas in river valleys and ravines in the southeastern United States. It is a pyramidal tree that develops a spreading rounded crown with age, typically growing 30-40’ tall. Showy fragrant flowers are white with rose-purple at the petal bases. Although quite large, the flowers are often located far off the ground and are not always easy to see close up. Flowers give way to spherical cone-like fruits which mature to red in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
var. ashei
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#white flowers#slow growing#native tree#low maintenance#flowering tree#NC native#large flowers#Braham Arboretum#dendrology#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
var. ashei
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#white flowers#slow growing#native tree#low maintenance#flowering tree#NC native#large flowers#Braham Arboretum#dendrology#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Magnolia
    Species:
    macrophylla
    Family:
    Magnoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Caribbean, Mexico, southeastern United States, NC
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • 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
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Fragrant, open, cup-shaped flowers to 8-10” (less frequently to 12”) wide bloom in May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Large leaves, up to 30" long. Produce leaf scares below the bud.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree