Interesting Facts About the Southern Magnolia

If you’ve ever noticed a Southern magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) before a neighbor’s home or while driving along a Southern highway, then you’ve experienced the visually rich impact and intoxicating scent these plants impart. But beyond their large, creamy white blooms and deep green, waxy leaves, Southern magnolias have them. Plant this tree in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7a through 10a for successful operation.

Different Sizes Available

Southern magnolias are understood partly because of their large size, typically growing to a height of up to 80 feet with a spread of up to 40 feet, but various cultivars provide you choices. Especially when you’ve got a garden that’s too small to handle this huge tree, then picking a cultivar, such as “Little Gem” means you may still delight in the beauty and scent of this evergreen. “Little Gem” typically reaches 12 to 20 feet tall with a spread of 10 to 15 feet and creates proportionally smaller flowers.

They’re Highly Aromatic

Throughout the summer and spring, the large flowers of the Southern magnolia tree open and release their strong, pleasant fragrance, reminiscent of lemons. Flowers open sporadically during these hotter months. The scent is strong enough to “cologne the entire garden,” notes University of Florida IFAS Extension. In addition, once the tree’s branches become injured or destroyed, this portion of the tree releases a citruslike odor.

These Evergreens Are Messy

When you think of evergreens, you likely don’t think of cluttered leaf litter. But evergreen trees usually do lose some leaves. Southern magnolias, particularly, are known for their juice and leaf litter, making for a less manicured look and and an increased requirement for clean-up. Their reputation as cluttered trees is promoted by their loss of leaves during the year. In addition, the leaves split fairly slowly, so their presence does little to benefit the development of other plants under the tree’s canopy, describes the Washington State University Clark County Extension.

It Is a Nation Tree

Known as an aesthetically charming unofficial representative of the southern United States, the Southern magnolia is also an official representative of Mississippi. In 1900, students from Mississippi voted the Southern magnolia in as the state flower, a choice which was formally passed by legislature in 1952. In 1938, schoolchildren again voted to the Southern magnolia, now as their state tree, and laws had been passed which makes it the official state tree of Mississippi.

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