Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Bigleaf Magnolia

Bigleaf Magnolia

Magnolia macrophylla

Full to part sun; medium moisture; organically rich, loamy soil; acidic pH.

30-40 feet height by 30-40 feet spread; creamy white flowers with purple petal bases in spring; spherical, cone-like, red fruits in late summer.

Growth Rate: Medium

Maintenance: Low maintenance. No serious disease or insect problems. Best sited in sheltered locations to protect large leaves from being shredded by heavy winds.

Propagation: Germination code C(60). Moderately easy from seed.

Native Region: Middle and East Tennessee

A round-headed, understory tree with the largest flowers and leaves of all native North American species, except for tropical palms. Leaves up to 3 feet long and 1 foot wide with showy, fragrant flowers up to 16 inches across. Flowers not always easy to see close-up because are often located far off the ground. Interesting sight in fall when leaves have fallen, and ground appears to be littered with large pieces of gray-green paper. May not be the easiest tree for the cultivated landscape due to difficulty in raking leaves, but tree is imposing and stately in appearance when open grown in a broad expanse of lawn. Tree blooms more heavily and at an earlier age in sun. Generally intolerant of wet or dry soil extremes. Rarely found in the wild, being limited mainly to a few rich wooded areas in river valleys and ravines. Cultivars available.

Limited wildlife value.


One response to “Bigleaf Magnolia

  1. joystewart January 26, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    This species is one of my favorite native trees. I like it because it is pretty easy to grow, pretty tolerant of clay soil, grows surprisingly fast, huge flowers, and very striking leaves. A very distinctive tree. I can see why people don’t like raking the leaves in fall because they are huge. However, I planted mine in a naturalized area with no lawn, so I never rake. I let the leaves pile up on the ground in fall and am surprised at how fast they disappear in the next growing season. Underneath the tree I have planted wild strawberries, and I thought maybe the leaves would kill the strawberries, but they seem to act more like fertilizer.

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