Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Native Plant of the Month: Bigleaf Magnolia

     The Bigleaf Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla (macro meaning large, phylla meaning leaf), is a deciduous understory tree that grows to a height of 30-40’. It has the largest leaf and flower of any plant native to the United States, with the leaf measuring as much as 32” long and 12” wide! They are dark green above and silver below and are quite breathtaking.  Now, this photo, above, is quite beautiful but there's no point of reference for you to tell just how large everything is.  That flower is probably every bit of 8" tall.
     I’ve actually been campaigning to get one on campus when I discovered one last month in the woods surrounded by sweetgum saplings! (maybe I’m the only one who didn’t know it was there… I dunno.) Needless to say, the sweetgums are toast. Be sure you check it out next time you’re here- it’s back in the woods near the sidewalk at the hort. building, behind the adult-form ivy.
     If you have a wooded area and are looking for something a little different or unusual this would be an ideal specimen for a filtered/morning sun spot. It’d be a good idea to put them somewhere you won’t mind the leaves dropping in the fall… those big dried up leaves are fairly unsightly.

Jessica Watters, GCLP         Horticulture Technician, Chattahoochee Technical College


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