Sweetbay Magnolia



Botanical Name: Magnolia virginiana

Common Name: Sweetbay Magnolia, Swamp Magnolia, Swamp Bay, Southern Sweetbay, Sweet Magnolia, Small Magnolia, Laurel Magnolia, White Bay, White Laurel, Swamp Laurel, Beaver Tree

Description: Beautiful, multi-stem, semi-evergreen native tree that lives naturally in swamps and moist, fertile forests in Florida. It adapts to normal gardening conditions, but is just fine and dandy in that wet spot or rain garden, but is also drought tolerant once established. Fragrant, creamy white flowers 2-3″ across open up in April through July, and are followed by dark red fruit with bright red seeds that birds and critters like to eat. Likes sun to part shade. Has a more airy and open form that the Grandiflora Magnolia, with deep blue-green to green leaves that are smaller and thinner. Slow growing to 20′ tall x 20′ wide with very old specimens reaching 80′ tall x 60′ wide. Has spicy smelling foliage and twigs. Has edible leaves and flower buds.

Do any pruning right after flowering because dormant magnolias don’t heal well from pruning cuts.

Can be used as a host plants by these caterpillars: Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly, Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly, and the Sweet Bay Silk Moth.

Tolerant of inundation with brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.

These plants in 3-gallon containers are 2-4′ tall.

Plant Lore: Beavers use the wood for food and building materials. So, of course, the colonists used the fleshy roots of the Sweetbay Magnolia to catch beavers in traps. I know you were wondering where the common name “Beaver Tree” came from. Now ya know.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9

Additional information

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