Syn: Sweetbay magnolia
Flowers: are creamy white, 8 to 14 cm diameter, with 6 to 15 tepals. The flowers carry a very strong vanilla scent that can be noticed several hundred yards away. The fruit is a fused aggregate of follicles, 3 to 5 cm long, pinkish-red when mature, with the follicles splitting open to release the 1 cm long seeds. The seeds are black but covered by a thinly fleshy red coat.
Leaves: are alternate, simple (not lobed or pinnate),with entire margins, and 6 to 12 cm long, 3 to 5 cm wide.
It is a deciduous or evergreen tree to 30 m tall, native to the southeastern United States. Whether it is deciduous or evergreen depends on climate; it is evergreen in areas with milder winters in the south of its range, and is semievergreen or deciduous further north.
The bark is smooth and gray, with the inner bark mildly scented, the scent reminiscent of the bay laurel spice.
It was the first magnolia to be scientifically described, and is the type species of the genus Magnolia; as Magnolia is also the type genus of all flowering plants, this species can be seen to typify all flowering plants.
Location: Kew Gardens
Photo: George Hargreaves
Source: Arboretum Wespelaar