Southern Magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia tree in Darlington triangle

Magnolia tree in Darlington triangle

This tree is the south!  Not many trees are as graceful, and there is nothing on earth that smells as wonderful as a magnolia in bloom. Take a magnolia blossom in your house and it will reward you for 2 or 3 days with its fragrance.

A Magnolia Grandiflora welcomes you to Peachtree Park if you come in on the Darlington Road entrance.  Hit hard by a storm in 2015, PPCA landscaping chair Michelle Lyle moved quickly to have it given the best care possible in hopes that it will recover.

There are several magnolias on the Nature Trail.  If these do not bloom, it’s because they have not yet broken through from the understory.

Magnolia blossom

Southern magnolias are native to the southeastern United States, from coastal North Carolina south to central Florida, and then west to East Texas and Oklahoma.

Magnolias are evergreen and shed leaves constantly.  True southerners know it’s best not to ‘limb up’ the tree allowing its branches to reach the ground.  This creates a sort of ‘skirt’ and will hide most of the falling leaves.

Magnolia grandiflora was one of the many species first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1759.  Its specific epithet is derived from the Latin words grandis “big”, and flor- “flower”.

Magnolia blossoms will open during the day, close at night and then reopen the next day as this time lapse video shows:

video: © 2015 Bill Everitt


Magnolia grandiflora is a medium to large evergreen tree which may grow 120 ft tall.  The leaves are simple and broadly ovate (oval, or egg-shaped) with smooth edges.  They are dark green, stiff and leathery, and often yellow-brown underneath.  The large, showy, flowers are white, 12 inches across and fragrant.  Flowering is followed by rose-colored fruit. [3]

Adapted to Georgia hardiness zones:      7a, 7b, 8a, 8b.     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 Southern Magnolia Trees in Atlanta and Georgia

Southern Magnolia Champions

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) – Southern Magnolia
[2]  The Intown Hawk: Plant Hardiness Zones
[3]  Wikipedia: Magnolia grandiflora