Botanical Name: Magnolia virginiana var. australis ‘Henry Hicks’
Common Name: Henry Hicks Sweetbay Magnolia
Notable Feature: A very hardy evergreen form of the Sweetbay Magnolia singled out for its persistent evergreen leaves and dense habit, even at temperatures as low as -17º F.
Habit: Evergreen. Upright and tree-like with a spreading habit over time, reaching 30 to 40’ high and 20 to 30’ wide. Hardy in Zones 6-10. M. virginiana var. australis is native along the southeastern Coastal Plain from South Carolina south to Florida and westward into Texas and one of the few magnolias that can grow in poorly drained soils.
Foliage: The glossy, oval to lanceolate leaves are dark green above with a silvery underside and 3 to 5” long. Completely evergreen in Zone 7.
Flower: Cup-shaped, lemony fragrant, creamy white, waxy flowers (3” in diameter) appear in late spring and continue sporadically throughout the summer. Each blossom contains 9 to 12 petal-like tepals.
Fruit: Ornamentally effective. The cone-like fruits contain bright red seeds that ripen in August and are an important source of food for birds.
Interesting Fact: Selected by John Wister, Scott Arboretum’s first director who named it in honor of nurseryman Henry Hicks (1870-1954), Westbury, Long Island. Received in 1937, this evergreen specimen was later introduced by the Scott Arboretum as M. virginiana var. australis 'Henry Hicks'. The original tree still resides in the old Magnolia Collection.