Magnolia macrophylla Michx. - Big-leaf Magnolia

Magnolia macrophylla plant

Family - Magnoliaceae

Stems - Woody, from taproot. A tree to +12m but typically smaller in our area, with single trunk or few smaller trunks, to +/-40cm in diameter. Branches glabrous, lower branches spreading at almost 90 degrees to main stem.

Magnolia macrophyla bark

Leaves - Alternate, mostly near apex of branches, petiolate, deciduous, larger than any other native U.S. tree. Petiole to -15cm, pubescent, thick. Blade to 75cm long, 35cm broad, glaucous (especially below), glabrous above, pubescent below, entire, obovate, blunt to subacute at apex, with two rounded auricles at base.

Magnolia macrophylla leafLeaf and the author's left hand.

Magnolia macrophylla leafAbaxial surface of leaf.

Inflorescence - Single terminal flower on short peduncle.

Flower - To +/-25cm broad, +/-15cm tall, with six petals, fragrant. Petals in two ranks. Inner rank slightly larger than outer, to +/-15cm long, +/-7cm broad, glabrous, with purple blotch base. Stamens many, densely whorled around receptacle. Filaments curved, to +1.2cm long, yellow-tan, glabrous, falling easily and early. Anthers yellow-tan, 2-3mm long. Carpels many at apex of receptacle, pubescent, yellow-tan with purplish tips. Apex of carpels slightly spreading. Sepals 3, typically falling early, smaller and more broad than petals, greenish, with tips recurved, glabrous internally, glabrous to pubescent externally. Flowers larger than any other native U.S. species.

Magnolia macrophylla flower

Magnolia macrophylla pistil

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Cultivated in our area but prefers moist shaded area.

Origin - Native to southeast U.S.

Other info. - This is a fine plant. The big leaves and flowers make it a very desirable ornamental. The tree is planted throughout the eastern U.S. as far north as New England but is native only to small portions of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas. The species name means "big leaf". The members of the Magnoliaceae are the most primitive of the flowering plants.

Photographs taken in Athens, GA., 5-28-05.


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