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Magnolia virginiana - L.

Common Name Laurel Magnolia, Sweetbay
Family Magnoliaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Wet acid sandy barrens and swamps at low elevations[184, 229]. Swamps, bays, low wet woods, savannahs; chiefly in coastal plain and lower piedmont from sea level to 540 metres[270].
Range Eastern N. America - Massachusetts to Florida, west to Missouri and Tennessee.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Magnolia virginiana Laurel Magnolia, Sweetbay


Photo by and (c)2008 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man). Co-attribution must be given to the Chanticleer Garden.
Magnolia virginiana Laurel Magnolia, Sweetbay
Photo (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Magnolia virginiana is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Beetles.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

M. glauca.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

The leaves are used as a condiment in gravies etc[183]. A tea is made from the leaves[183].

Medicinal Uses

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Aromatic  Astringent  Bitter  Diaphoretic  Febrifuge  Hallucinogenic  Stimulant

A tea made from the bark is antiperiodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, laxative, stimulant and tonic[4, 222]. It has historically been used as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of malaria[222, 238] and is also taken internally in the treatment of colds, bronchial diseases, upper respiratory tract infections, rheumatism and gout[238, 257]. The bark has been chewed by people trying to break the tobacco habit[222]. The bark is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238]. It does not store well so stocks should be renewed annually[238]. A tea made from the fruit is a tonic, used in the treatment of general debility and was formerly esteemed in the treatment of stomach ailments[222]. The leaves or bark have been placed in cupped hands over the nose and inhaled as a mild hallucinogen[257].

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Other Uses

Wood

An essential oil from the flowers has been used in the manufacture of perfumes[227]. Wood - straight-grained, light, soft, easily worked, finishes well, aromatic and yellow in colour[4, 46, 61, 229]. It weighs 31lb per cubic foot[227]. Used for furniture, broom handles, bowls and light woodenware articles etc[46, 61, 227, 229].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Scented Plants

Cultivation details

Requires a sunny sheltered position in a deep soil that does not dry out in the summer[11]. Plants are also tolerant of wet soils[238]. Succeeds in acid or neutral soils in sun or part shade[184]. Dislikes limey soils[11]. Tolerates some alkalinity so long as there is at least 50cm of good soil above the alkaline layer[202]. The branches are brittle so a sheltered position is required[200]. Plants are very tolerant of atmospheric pollution[200]. Mature dormant plants are hardy to about -20°c but the flowers are easily damaged by frost or wind.[184]. A warmth-loving species, it is best grown in the south and east of Britain[11]. The fleshy roots are easily damaged and any transplanting is best done during a spell of mild moist weather in late spring[182]. A slow growing tree but it flowers whilst young[182]. The flowers have a delicious scent of lemons[182]. A number of cultivars have been developed for their ornamental value. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 6. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. An evergreen. The root pattern is a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [1-2].

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed must be kept cold over the winter and should be sown in late winter in a cold frame[200]. The seed usually germinates in the spring but it can take 18 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter. They can be planted out into their permanent positions when they are more than 15cm tall, though should be well mulched and given some protection from winter cold for their first winter or two outdoors. Layering in early spring[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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