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Magnoliaceae Magnolia Virginiana

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Magnoliaceae Magnolia Virginiana:

A.K.A.: Sweet bay, swamp-bay, laurel, swamp, sweet magnolia, and swamp-laurel.

Native to the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal plains from Long Island south through New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania to southern Florida; west to eastern Texas, and north into southern Arkansas and southwest Tennessee; also appears in isolated portions of eastern Massachusetts, where it may reflect only older ornamental plantings. Mostly abundant in the States of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Found on moist to wet sites in the southeastern U.S. Intermediate shade tolerance. The leaves are simple, alternate, evergreen, elliptical, approximately 6 inches long, and silvery white on the underside. Readily distinguished from others in genus by the white pubescence of its lower leaf surfaces. Young twigs are green and hairy with a velvety hairy terminal bud. Bark is mottled gray-brown to almost white and smooth, becoming scaly on older stems. Flowers are white and fragrant. Fruit is a cone-like cluster of red follicles. The soft aromatic straight-grained wood is easily worked and finishes well, so it is used for veneer, boxes, and containers. Its flowers and foliage make it an attractive landscape tree. Sweet bay is also a favorite food of deer and cattle. Deer browse the leaves and twigs all year. Cattle utilize sweet bay especially in the winter, when it can account for as much as 25 percent of their winter diet. Analysis of browse samples from Georgia and east Texas indicate that sweet bay contains 10 percent crude protein. The seeds are a favorite food of gray squirrels and are eaten to a lesser extent by white-footed mice, wild turkey, quail, and songbirds. Sweet bay is at times confused with loblolly-bay (Gordonia lasianthus) and red bay (Perseaborbonia), since "bay" is the term commonly used in referring to any of these three species. Information provided by Justin Makii 2002



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