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Botanical Name: Magnolia macrophylla

Common Name: Bigleaf Magnolia
Campus: Kendal and Crosslands

 

Notable Feature: This member of the Bigleaf Clan of magnolias is noted for its huge, up to 30-inch-long, tropical-looking leaves. This species boasts the largest simple leaf and single flower of any native plant in North America. Rarely found in the wild, it is limited to a few rich, wooded areas along river valleys and ravines in the southeastern United States.

Habit: A pyramidal tree that develops an open and spreading, rounded crown with age, and typically grows 30 to 50 feet tall with a 30 to 40-foot-spread. Hardy in Zones 5-8.

Foliage: The deciduous, oblong to rounded leaves have undulating edges and a pair of ear-shaped lobes at the base of each leaf. Leaves are green above, silvery gray beneath, and are a whopping 12 to 36” long and 7 to 12” wide.

Flower: Large, creamy white and cup-shaped, each fragrant bloom measures 12 to 18 inches high and 3 to 5 inches across. Composed of 6 petal-like tepals, the inner 3 have a purple blotch at the base. Blooms in late spring to midsummer.

Fruit: Ornamentally attractive, cone-shaped, and covered with fuzzy hairs. Mature to reddish orange in late summer, releasing individual red-coated seeds suspended on slender threads.

Interesting Fact: Although quite large, the flowers are often located far off the ground and are not always easy to see close up. The specific epithet, macrophylla, is Latin meaning large leaf and refers to the leaves which are indeed oversized.

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