sweetbay magnolia
Magnolia virginiana

Secondary Names:
swamp magnolia, swampbay, swamp bay

Leaf Type: Semi-evergreen
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A tree 60 to 80 feet tall, usually smaller, and a trunk to 2 feet in diameter, with an oval crown of glossy, green foliage.

Range/Site Description:

Found in swamps and on rich, moist soils in dense forests in southeast Texas.


Simple, alternate, 4" to 6" long and 1" to 2.5" wide, elliptical or oblong, pale green and glossy above, silky-white beneath, semi-evergreen or evergreen.


Opening during several weeks of spring and early summer, with showy flowers 2" to 3" across, each with 9 to 12 creamy white petals on slender smooth stems.


An aggregate or "cone," oval or cylindrical, 2" long, dark red or brown, containing scarlet seeds which are oval, flattened, and less than 0.5" long.


Light gray to brown, aromatic if bruised; the branchlets are silky-white.


Soft, creamy white to reddish, at one time used for furniture, boxes, woodenware, and Venetian blinds.

Similar Species:

Redbay (Persea borbonia) has narrower, aromatic leaves, inconspicuous flowers and small, round dark fruits; southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) has larger flowers and leaves with rusty-brown hairs underneath.

Interesting Facts:

At one time the flowers were used to manufacture certain perfumes.

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