Magnolia virginiana

Photo by John Bradford. Photograph belongs to the photographer who allows use for FNPS purposes only. Please contact the photographer for all other uses.

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
10A 10B 8A 8B 9A 9B 

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Sweet-bay Magnolia


Plant Specifics

Size:20-30 (60) ft by 10-15 ft.  Forms clones when growing in wet areas.
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:White
Fruit Color:Red,brown
Phenology:Evergreen. Blooms mid- to late spring. Fruits ripen late summer-fall.
Habitats:Bay swamp, forested seep slopes, floodplains of small streams, low flatwoods where fire has been excluded.


Recommended Uses:Specimen plant in moist areas. Wetland tree.  In wetlands, it forms clones making it useful for wetland restoration.
Light: Part Shade,  Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
Moisture Tolerance: Stays Wet ----- to ----- Somewhat moist, no flooding
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Tolerant of inundation with brackish water
Salt Spray Tolerance:Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray
Soil/Substrate:Organic material (muck), Sand



Seeds are eaten by woodpeckers, kingbirds, red-eyed vireos, mockingbirds, robins, thrushes, crows, cardinals, squirrels, mice among others.

Deer browse leaves and twigs.

Fruits eaten by gray squirrels, mice, turkey and quail as well as a variety of smaller birds  including vireos, towhees,  blue jays, woodpeckers, kingbirds,  mockingbirds, robins, thrushes, crows, cardinals, squirrels, mice among others

Larval host plant for Eastern tiger swallowtail (Pterourous glaucus).

Larval host for the southern tiger swallowtail.  This butterfly is restricted to Magnolia virginiana.

Beetles are the primary pollinators. The flowers have a hardened carpel to avoid damage by their gnawing mandibles as the feed. The beetles are after the protein-rich pollen. Because the beetles are interesting in pollen and pollen alone, the flowers mature in a way that ensures cross pollination. The male parts mature first and offer said pollen. The female parts of the flower are second to mature. They produce no reward for the beetles but are instead believed to mimic the male parts, ensuring that the beetles will spend some time exploring and thus effectively pollinating the flowers (In Defense of Plants blog).