Everything You Need to Know About the Southern Magnolia Tree
Scientific name: Magnolia grandiflora
Also known as: Evergreen magnolia, bull-bay (because cattle reportedly eat its leaves), big laurel, and large flower magnolia
Size: 60-90 feet tall, 2-3 feet in diameter
Lifespan: 80-120 years
Characteristics: The Southern Magnolia is a medium to large sized majestic southern evergreen tree with oval-shaped leaves 5-8 inches long and 2-3 inches wide that are green on top and rusty red on the bottom. It is known for its large white fragrant flowers. Southern Magnolia flowers do not produce true nectar, but instead secret a sugary secretion. Both the blooms and the leaves of the Southern Magnolia touch and strong, making them more resistant to insect damage. Southern magnolias drop their leaves year round and leave considerable leaf litter.
Blooming period: June-August
Habitat: Southern magnolias grow best in coastal plains in moist, well-drained, slightly soils. They prefer morning sun and afternoon shade.
Location: Native to the Deep South, the Southern Magnolia is found in Central and North Florida, and the southern halves of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
What you should know: The magnolia family includes about 80 different species of trees and large shrubs that are divided into two types, deciduous and evergreen. Although the Southern Magnolia is native to the region, many other hybrids have been developed over the years based on the Southern Magnolia’s popularity, including some that are cold hardy and can survive further north and others with different shades of blooms. The little gem magnolia was cultivated for those who enjoyed the charm of the Southern Magnolia but don’t have the yard space for them.
Uses: The Southern Magnolia wood is used for furniture, boxes, cabinetry, and doors.
Trimming tips: The best time to trim a Southern Magnolia is after it has bloomed, but before winter.
History: Species of magnolias have survived for 100 million years, according to fossil records. A different species of magnolia has been popular in China and Japan since the 7th century. The magnolia is named after French botanist Pierre Mongol, who fell in love with the tree. The Southern Magnolia has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries for uses that include steroids and anti-anxiety. President Andrew Jackson planted a southern Magnolia on the grounds of the White House that lived for more than 200 years until it had to be removed in 2017 because of its declining health.
State tree: Mississippi and Louisiana
Fun fact: When The Southern Magnolia branches become injured or crushed, that portion of the tree releases a citrus-like scent.
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