The Magnolia grandifloras in our collection are blooming now! Who doesn’t love a 12-inch wide flower that smells great? The commonly named Southern Magnolia or Bull-Bay is native to the SE United States from Eastern Texas, along the lower Gulf Coast to the Atlantic where it grows in loamy soils near water. It has proven to be very adaptable to different soils and this has allowed for its ability to be cultivated in many different climates. The largest M. grandifloras in their native habitat have been measured at up to 125′. In non-native climate gardens they tend to grow to about 80′.
This tree is a valued ornamental in gardens around the world because of its large flowers and dark green glossy evergreen leaves. It is used industrially for its beautiful hardwood to make furniture and cabinetry. The seeds are food for native southeast squirrels, possums, quail and turkeys. The leaves, fruit, bark and wood also are valued for their pharmaceutical properties.
Our collection M. grandifloras are located on either side of Arboretum Drive in the Magnolia section of the arboretum. These trees are quite large and most of its flowers are high up, but there are a few on the lower branches accessible for smelling that nice citrusy scent. Tour visitors from the Southern US assure me that this scent can be smelled at a distance down there, but up here in the Pacific NW one has to get up close to enjoy the scent. And, speaking of tours, these trees and other summer bloomers like the Hydrangea are featured in our Free Weekend Walks for the month of July. Join us any Sunday; we meet at 1:00 pm at the Graham Visitors Center.