The sweetbay magnolia grows as a large rounded shrub or a small single-stemmed tree. It is more likely to appear as a tree in the deep South and can even grow to be 60 feet tall in this region. Additionally, the leaves on this tree may remain year round if growing in the South, making it an evergreen in that region. In May to June, the cup-shaped, creamy white, 9-12 petaled, lemon scented flowers will emerge. The tree’s leaves are long, oval shaped, and dark green, with silvery undersides. This tree attracts small mammals.
Family: Magnoliaceae (Magnolia)
Characteristics: The 3-5 inch long leaves are oval shaped and dark green, with silvery undersides. In the fall, leaves turn a brown-yellow. In May-June, 2-3 inch, creamy white, 9-12 petaled, fragrant flowers begin to bloom. Bark is silver-gray and smooth. This tree may appear as a single-stemmed tree, or a round, multi-stemmed, shrub. It usually grows 10-20 feet high and wide, though can reach up to 60 feet in the deep South.
Foliage: Deciduous (leaves lost seasonally), Evergreen (foliage present year round) in the South
Geographic Origin: Southeastern United States (native)
Cultivation Notes: Requires low maintenance. Does best in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist to wet, acidic, and well-drained soils. This tree is tolerant to clay soil and air pollution.
Number on Campus: 4
Sources: Dirr, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden