Sunday, July 11, 2010

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) - Part 1

Magnolia grandiflora is known by the common names Southern Magnolia, Evergreen Magnolia, Great Flowering Magnolia or Bull Bay. It grows widely in Georgia both in the wild and in cultivation; it is more common in south Georgia than in north Georgia. Eight Magnolia species and subspecies may be found in Georgia. Magnolia grandiflora is easy to recognize by its glossy green leaves which are matte brown underneath. Another identification characteristic is a red ‘stalk’ in the base of the flower.

Since Magnolia grandiflora is evergreen, it doesn’t display the dramatic budding process in the Spring. The flowers are large, flashy white flowers. I didn’t pay much attention until I looked at the flower after the petals had fallen and noticed the similarity of the developing fruit to those of the Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) which I had photographed from its first Spring bud. Then I found that they both belonged to the family Magnoliaceae and started to look closely at the flower to compare its structure with those of the Tulip Tree whose anthers and stamen are still intact when the flower opens fully.

A Magnolia grandiflora tree. This tree is growing by the parking lot at the Old Fort in Fort Yargo State Park.

A closer view of leaves showing the glossy leaves with matte brown undersides.

A flower bud and partly open flower.

By the time the flower opens fully, the anthers and stamen have started to disintegrate. The red stalk at the base of the flower is visible.

So I gently opened a younger flower and exposed the intact anthers and stamen which are quite intricate and beautiful.

Magnolia grandiflora
(Southern Magnolia) is native to the United States. It grows in states south from Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Magnolia grandiflora
(Southern Magnolia)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Magnolia grandiflora

Identification resources:
- Southeastern Flora: Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Magnolia grandiflora

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower

- Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
- Part 1

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