Magnolia virginiana, (Sweetbay or Swamp Magnolia)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Lovely, lemon-scented, cup-shaped flowers appear mid-spring and bloom intermittently throughout the summer, followed in the fall by showy cone-like fruit. This elegant, semi-evergreen tree is native to the lowlands and freshwater swamps primarily along the Mid-Atlantic* and Gulf coasts.

*It is native to DC. It is common in the Coastal Plains of DE and VA. It is infrequent to rare in the VA Piedmont but is native to NoVA except to Fairfax County. It is rare in PA.

Print Version (Legal Size): Magnolia virginiana, (Sweetbay or Swamp Magnolia)

Magnolia virginiana Sweetbay or Swamp Magnolia Height: 12–30 feet Flower, Fruit , Bark, Early Fall Tree Spread: 12–30 feet Bloom Color: White to cream Characteristics Semi-evergreen tree with spreading, rounded crown Evergreen to semi-evergreen, lanceolate foliage is shiny green above and silvery below Very fragrant 2- to 3-inch creamy white flowers with 9 to 12 petals from May to June Green to pink cone-like fruits mature late summer & split open to reveal bright red arils (seed coverings) Bark smooth, gray, and lightly scented Attributes Tolerates clay soils, boggy soils, shade, occasional flooding, air pollution, and some salt No serious pests or diseases Deer severely damage seldom in northern part of range, more frequently in south and west Attracts birds and other wildlife species; larval host for the Eastern Tiger and Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies and for the Promethea and Sweetbay silkmoths Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Rich, acidic Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Use as specimen, patio plant or in shrub borders, rain gardens (larger than 150 sq ft), or wet areas Excellent Replacement for Acer palmatum - Japanese Maple Magnolia grandiflora - Southern Magnolia Paulownia tomentosa - Princess Tree Pyrus calleryana - Bradford Pear *It is native to DC. It is common in the Coastal Plains of DE and VA. It is infrequent to rare in the VA Piedmont but is native to NoVA except to Fairfax County. It is rare in PA. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5–10

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets