Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Last month we highlighted the Sweetbay Magnolia, a beautiful, sweet-smelling ornamental tree. Today we want to highlight its larger cousin, the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) or bull bay.

The Southern Magnolia is native to the southeastern United States, stretching from coastal North Carolina, south to central Florida and then west to Texas. It is found on the edge of bodies of water and swamps.

Like most Magnolia species, the Southern Magnolia has large, fragrant, cream-colored flowers and evergreen leaves that make it a wonderful tree for ornamental use and an effective windbreaker or street tree.

The Southern Magnolia can grow up to 80 feet and have a spread of up to 40 feet if given the proper care. The leaves are dark green, stiff and leathery. Each grows about 5 to 8 inches long and has smooth margins. The bark is brown to gray, thin and smooth when young. The white, citronella-scented flowers bloom from April to June and attract birds and insects.

Facts about the Southern Magnolia that you can use as ice breakers at your next party:
  • Symbolic of the American South, the Southern Magnolia is the state tree of Mississippi and the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana.
  • The largest known Southern Magnolia is located in Smith County, MS. It is 122 feet tall and has a diameter of 6 feet.
  • In some parts of England, the flowers are pickled and eaten.

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