sweetbay magnolia
Magnolia virginiana L.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: sweetbay, whitebay
  • LEAVES: evergreen in Deep South, alternate, simple; blades elliptical, 5-8” long, white below, aromatic when crushed
  • FLOWER: white, typical magnolia-like, 2-3” diameter; fragrant; flowering April to June
  • FRUIT: aggregate of follicles, ellipsoidal and cone-like, to ca. 2” long; seeds red
  • TWIGS: slender, bright green early, becoming reddish-brown after first year; circular stipular scars present (as in other Magnoliaceae); pith diaphragmed
  • BARK: thin, gray, irregularly furrowed on older trees
  • FORM: medium-sized tree, to ca. 70’ tall and 3’ dbh; trees typically have many basal sprouts/suckers
  • HABITAT: baygalls and wooded seeps, small stream bottoms in piney hills, fire-suppressed bogs and wet flatwoods; absent from Mississippi and Red River floodplains
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Wetland (FACW): Usually occurs in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: of little timber importance, when harvested used for furniture, veneer, paneling, cabinets; ornamental readily available in nursery trade
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. species typical of baygalls and small seeps oalong streams on old coastal plain landscapes
    2. tree with smooth gray bark, typically with many basal sprouts/suckers
    3. elliptic-shaped persistent leaves that are white beneath