Magnolia virginiana var. australis
Common Name: swamp magnolia 
Type: Tree
Family: Magnoliaceae
Native Range: Eastern United States
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 15.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 60.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Wet Soil, Air Pollution


Easily grown in acidic, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, rich, organic soils, but, unlike most other magnolias, tolerates wet, boggy soils. Also tolerates shade. Appreciates a protected location in USDA Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Magnolia virginiana, commonly called sweet bay magnolia, is native to the southeastern United States north along the Atlantic coast to New York. In the northern part of its cultivated growing range, it typically grows as either a 15-20' tall tree with a spreading, rounded crown or as a shorter, suckering, open, multi-stemmed shrub. In the far southern United States, it is apt to be more tree-like, sometimes growing to 60' tall. Features cup-shaped, sweetly fragrant (lemony), 9-12 petaled, creamy white, waxy flowers (2-3" diameter) which appear in mid-spring and sometimes continue sporadically throughout the summer. Oblong-lanceolate shiny green foliage is silvery beneath. Foliage is evergreen to semi-evergreen in warmer climates and semi-evergreen to fully deciduous in colder climates. Cone-like fruits with bright red seeds mature in fall and can be showy.

Var. austrlis is primarily found in the far southern United States and is distinguished from the species by having a layer of woolly, white hairs on the pedicles (flower stems) and new growth. Plants also tend to be larger and more reliably evergreen than the species.

Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715).

Specific epithet means of Virginia.


No serious disease or insect problems. Susceptible to chlorosis in alkaline soils.


Excellent specimen tree for the lawn or shrub border. Also effective in foundation plantings, near patios, terraces or on the periphery of woodland areas. Often planted in parks. Will grow in wet locations such as low spots or near ponds or streams.