Magnolia grandiflora

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 Magnolia grandiflora subsp. var.  Southern magnolia, bull bay
Magnolia flower Duke campus.jpg
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
Height: 60 ft to 80 ft
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Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: sun
Water: moist
Features: evergreen, flowers
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Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 6 to 9.5
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Magnoliaceae > Magnolia grandiflora var. ,

Magnolia grandiflora, commonly known as the Southern magnolia or bull bay, is a tree of the family Magnoliaceae native to the southeastern United States, from coastal Virginia south to central Florida, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. Reaching 27.5 m (90 ft) in height, it is a large striking evergreen tree with large dark green leaves and large white fragrant flowers. Widely cultivated around the world, over a hundred cultivars have been bred and marketed commercially. The timber is hard and heavy, and has been used commercially to make furniture, pallets, and veneer.

Magnolia grandiflora is a medium to large evergreen tree which may grow 27.5 m (90 ft) tall.[1] It typically has a single stem (or trunk) and a pyramidal shape.[2] The leaves are simple and broadly ovate, 12–20 cm (5–8 in) long and 6–12 cm (2–5 in) broad,[2] with smooth margins. They are dark green, stiff and leathery, and often scurfy underneath with yellow-brown pubescence. The large, showy, citronella-scented flowers are white, up to 30 cm (12 in) across and fragrant, with 6–12 petals with a waxy texture, emerging from the tips of twigs on mature trees in late spring. Flowering is followed by the rose-coloured fruit, ovoid and 7.5–10 cm (3–4 in) long and 3–5 cm (1.5–2 in) wide.[3]



Pests and diseases


Over a hundred cultivars have been developed and named in Europe and North America. More and more plants in nurseries are propagated by cuttings, resulting in more consistent form in the various varieties available.[4] Many older cultivars have been superseded by newer ones and are no longer available.[5]

As newer cultivars have been found to be more cold hardy, the cultivated range has continued to spread farther north with some being planted around Chicago. 'Bracken's Brown Beauty', 'Edith Bogue' and '24 Below' are some of the most cold hardy varieties.

  • Magnolia "Angustifolia", developed in France in 1825, has narrow spear-shaped leaves 20 cm (8 in) long by 11 cm (4.4 in) wide, as its name suggests.[4]
  • Magnolia "Exmouth" was developed in the early 18th century by John Colliton in Devon. It is notable for its huge flowers with up to 20 tepals, and vigorous growth. Erect in habit, it is often planted against walls. The leaves are green above and brownish underneath.[6] The flowers are very fragrant and the leaves are narrow and leathery.[7]
  • Magnolia "Goliath", was developed by Caledonia Nurseries of Guernsey, and has a bushier habit and globular flowers of up to 30 cm (12 in) diameter. Long-flowering, it has oval leaves which lack the brownish hair underneath.[6]
  • Magnolia "Little Gem", a dwarf cultivar, is grown in warmer climates. Originally developed in 1952 by Steed's Nursery in Candor, North Carolina, it is a slower growing form with a columnar shape which reaches around 4.25 m (14 ft) high and 1.2 m (4 ft) wide. Flowering heavily over an extended period in warmer climate, it bears medium-size cup-shaped flowers, and has elliptic leaves 12.5 cm (5 in) long by 5 cm (2 in) wide.[6]

Other commonly grow cultivars include:

  • Magnolia "Ferruginea", has dark green leaves with rust-brown undersides.[7]


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