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Magnolia 'NCMX1' PPAF

Common Name(s):
Big-laurel, Bull-bay, Mercury™ Magnolia

Magnolia is one of the oldest tree species in the world. They made up a large part of the North Temperate forest trees before the last glacial age. They may live 80 – 120 years. “Magnolia”, from the Latin meaning large flowers, honors the French botanist Pierre Magnol. Heavy leaf residue, containing allelochemicals, interfere with the establishment of plants underneath the tree. This tree has a refined upright form reaching 40’ – 80’ in height and 30’ – 40’ in width. Trees will become very large over time and should be planted in areas where they can expand as the roots often reach well beyond the leaf canopy.

MercuryTM is a unique and exceptional late-blooming (often a month after typical M. soulangeana, thereby avoiding late spring frosts) magnolia tree with huge fragrant flowers, a refined, upright form that is ideal for use as a street or specimen tree. The best display is in summer when Mercury’s huge flowers put on a visual display and teases the nose with a delightful fragrance. But the tree stays green and provides a bit of color pick-me-up in the winter

Developed as a collaborative project by NC State University, J. Frank Schmidt and Son Nursery, and the late Dr. August Kehr.

Ethnobotany: The long-lasting leaves have been in holiday flower arrangements.  A variety of extracts taken from leaves, fruits, bark and wood have been used in pharmaceutical applications.

Seasons of Interest:

    Bloom: Summer     Foliage: Winter, evergreen

Wildlife Value: Seeds, which are high in fat, are a good energy source for migratory birds, squirrel, opossum, quail, turkey, mice & chipmunks. Pollinators, especially beetles, are attracted to the pollen which is high in protein. It is notable that magnolias are deer resistant!

Insects, Diseases and Other Problems: No serious insect or disease problems.


40-80 ft
Huge, showy, fragrant flowers that are red in bud and opening to a bright lavender pink. Followed by an aggregate of dry, cylindrical, hairy, 3 – 5 inch-long carpels that turn red/red-brown with age. Each follicle contains one long bright red seed.
Evergreen, broadleaf
Full sun for best flower display with moist, organically-rich, well-drained soil. It can survive in shade, but has low drought tolerance. It cannot survive in flooded conditions, but can tolerate high moisture levels and soil salinity. It is winter hardy, tolerates air pollution, and is hurricane/storm-resistant.
Desnse, symmetrical, conical shape
30-40 ft
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate
Simple, alternate and oval to elliptical. Pinnate venation. Very thick and leathery without teeth. A smooth, shiny intense green surface above and a fuzzy, cinnamon brown color below. Each leaf can remain on the tree for up to 2 years.
large tree, moist soil, wet soil, pollinator, specimen, food source, salinity, deer resistant, wet site, salt tolerant, wildlife, fragrant flowers, evergreen

NCCES plant id: 3110

Mercury™ Magnolia Young tree form
Mercury™ Magnolia Young tree in bloom
Mercury™ Magnolia Flower bud