Mississippi Native: Sweetbay Magnolia
Downloadable Brochure: SWEETBAY MAGNOLIA
Swampbay, Sweet Magnolia, Beaver Tree
This shrub/tree is a semi-evergreen. Multi-trunked and upright, the sweetbay magnolia has light gray bark. This bark is smooth and mottled in appearance. Seeds, which are bright red and elongated, appear in cone-shaped clusters. Leaves are glossy green on top and bluish white underneath. Flowers are creamy white.
Flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Berries emerge in the summer. Seeds are collected from the berries.
This plant reaches heights of 12 – 20 feet but can grow to 60 feet. Leaves reach widths of 1 – 2 ½ inches and lengths of 3 – 6 inches. Flowers measure 4 – 6 inches across. Seed clusters are 2 inches long on average.
The sweetbay magnolia occurs in a variety of swampy areas and moist, shaded areas, such as wet pinelands.
Seeds attract birds and squirrels. Flowers are fragrant, and foliage has a spicy odor. Fruit will have a citrus smell when removing the seed from the fruit/pulp. In the later part of the seventeenth century, this tree made its way to Europe as an addition to gardens. Early American colonists used the sweetbay roots to capture beavers. As a result, the tree acquired the nickname “beaver tree.”
The sweetbay magnolia needs full sun to part shade and moist to wet soil. Plant from seeds collected in the summer.