Big-Leaf Magnolia

Magnolia macrophylla


Bil-Leaf Bloom – photo: Bjocar

This species boasts the largest simple leaf and single flower of any native plant in North America.  Surprisingly, it’s an understory tree usually between 45 and 60 feet tall. [2]

Any disturbance that lets more light reach the ground is beneficial to the establishment of Big-Leaf magnolia, but despite its relatively fast growth-rate when stimulated by more light, other understory and canopy trees/seedlings are usually able to outgrow and out-compete it. This suits the plant just fine as it is tolerant of low light levels. [2]

In the southeastern United States, especially Alabama and surrounding areas, Magnolia macrophylla is sometimes called the “cowcumber magnolia,” in contrast with the much smaller-leaved Cucumber Magnolia. [2]

Identification and Description

Big-Leaf Magnolia is a deciduous, flowering tree having coarse texture, a round-headed form, and a medium growth rate. Unusually large leaves are 20 to 30 inches long and 8 to 12 inches wide. Large, white, fragrant flowers are borne from May to June and have six petals 8 to 12 inches across. Its egg-shaped, cone-like fruit and red seeds are typical of Magnolias. [1]

Adapted to Georgia hardiness zones:      7a, 7b, 8a.      Atlanta is zone 7b [1]

For more photos and identification help, we recommend the UGA Extension site: Native Plants for Georgia Part I: Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines (B 987).

Champion  Big-Leaf Magnolia Trees in Atlanta and Georgia


Atlanta Champion Trees – full list
Georgia Champion Trees – full list
Intown Hawk – Condensed Atlanta and Georgia List

References and Additional Information

[1]  UGA Extension: Native Plants for Georgia Part I: Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines (B 987) – Big-Leaf Magnolia
[2]  Wikipedia: Magnolia macrophylla