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Magnolia virginiana

Common Name(s):

  • Swamp Magnolia
  • Sweet Bay
  • Sweetbay Magnolia
Phonetic Spelling
mag-NO-lee-ah ver-jin-ee-AY-nah
Description

Magnolia virginiana, commonly called sweet bay magnolia, is native to the coastal areas southeastern United States north along the Atlantic coast to New York. In the northern part of its cultivated growing range, it typically grows as either a 15-20' tall tree with a spreading, rounded crown or as a shorter, suckering, open, multi-stemmed shrub. In the deep South, it is apt to be more tree-like, sometimes growing to 60' tall.  It has smooth bark, narrow, rounded crown, and shallow roots.  It is multistemmed, with an upright spreading habit.  It tolerates wet sites and has aromatic spicy leaves and twigs and extremely fragrant flowers. 

An excellent specimen tree for lawns or tall multi-stemmed shrub for shrub borders. Used in foundation plantings, near patios or on the periphery of woodland areas. It is often planted in parks.

This plant is moderately salt tolerant.

 

Seasons of Interest: 

     Bloom:  Spring, Summer      Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall, cones

 

 Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Susceptible to chlorosis in alkaline soils.

Cultivars:
  • 'Henry Hicks'
  • 'Jim Wilson'
  • 'Moonglow'
Tags:
#native#fragrant#butterflies#evergreen#birds#pollinators#water garden#rain garden#fragrant flowers#foliage#wildlife plant#showy#fragrant leaves#salt tolerant#attracts birds#boggy#flowering tree#seeds#host#wet sites#small mammals#cpp#low flammability#fragrant stems#deer resistant#ponds#fire resistant
Cultivars:
  • 'Henry Hicks'
  • 'Jim Wilson'
  • 'Moonglow'
Tags:
#native#fragrant#butterflies#evergreen#birds#pollinators#water garden#rain garden#fragrant flowers#foliage#wildlife plant#showy#fragrant leaves#salt tolerant#attracts birds#boggy#flowering tree#seeds#host#wet sites#small mammals#cpp#low flammability#fragrant stems#deer resistant#ponds#fire resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Magnolia
    Species:
    virginiana
    Family:
    Magnoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides winter and extreme weather cover.  Host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  Foliage and twigs are eaten by white-tailed deer in winter but it is moderately deer resistant.  Seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire in landscape
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full Sun (Direct sunlight 8+ hours a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight (2-4 hrs) for only part of the day
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Aggregate
    Fruit Description:
    The flowers are followed by cone-like fruits with bright red seeds that mature in fall and can be showy.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    up-shaped, sweetly fragrant (lemony), 9-12 petaled, creamy white, waxy flowers (2-3" diameter) adorn the Sweet bay magnolia in mid-spring and sometimes continue sporadically throughout the summer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Sweet bay magnolia has oblong-lanceolate shiny 3-5 in. dark green foliage which is blue-white to silvery underneath. The foliage is evergreen to semi-evergreen in the South
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Bark is a brownish gray.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt
    Wet Soil