Botanical Name: Magnolia fraseri var. pyramidata
Common Name: Pyramid Magnolia
Notable Feature: This member of the Bigleaf Clan of magnolias is native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains from West Virginia south to northern Florida where it is found growing as an understory tree along the low-lying coastal regions adjacent to both the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
Habit: Relatively uncommon in cultivation, this slender, pyramidal, deciduous (in its northern range) small tree will reach 10 to 20 feet high. Often multistemmed and openly branching it is hardy in Zones 5b-9.
Foliage: The deciduous leaves are kite-shaped and large, 6 to 12” long and 3 to 6” broad, with 2 distinct lobes (auricles or “ears”) at the base of each leaf. Leaves are clustered at the ends of the branches.
Flower: The 3- to 5-inch-wide, saucer-shaped flowers have 9 petal-like tepals. The blossoms are fragrant, showy, and a creamy white, exuding a strong turpentine scent in April to May.
Fruit: Rosy red, egg-shaped, fruiting cones ripen in July and August, changing to a purplish brown. Seeds turn a bright orange-red in September.
Interesting Fact: Relatively uncommon in cultivation, it was originally discovered by William Bartram on the banks of the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1806. Named for John Fraser, a Scot who made numerous trips to North America between 1783 and 1809 in search of plants which might prove to be useful ornamentals in the British Isles.